While there has been an overall decline in breast cancer deaths over the last 30 years, there is a persistent and significant mortality gap between Black women and white women. Black women are also disproportionately affected by more aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, such as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).These differences are multifactorial but are in part a result of underrepresentation of Black patients in clinical trials, which provide the highest level of evidence in evaluating the safety and efficacy of new cancer treatments. However, distrust in medical professionals from the Black community remains due to the history of healthcare injustices committed against communities of color, such as the Tuskegee study. This disparity can result in poorer outcomes for Black patients and inaccurate information about drug efficacy.
Coral Omene, MD, PhD, is a medical oncologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and leading cancer program together with RWJBarnabas Health, whose clinical expertise focuses on triple-negative breast cancer, translational research and clinical trials. She is also a member of the Cancer Health Equity Center of Excellence which works to evaluate clinical trial enrollment, address catchment area burden and foster catchment area and disparities. Dr. Omene is currently working to increase clinical trial awareness and enrollment of Black women with breast cancer with the aid of a $50,000 grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research in partnership with ESPN.
Dr. Omene is available for comment on these topics.