Study: Low-income patients less likely to join cancer trials

Patients who make less than $50,000 a year are less likely to participate in clinical trials, a new study finds, raising concerns among researchers about accessibility and education.

In a study funded in part by the National Cancer Institute, cancer patients making less than $50,000 were 27% less likely to join clinical trials, and those making less than $20,000 a year were 44% less likely, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The patients reported that their chief concern was cost, an alarming development to researchers because trial participation generally does not include an added financial burden. 

It may be the case that cancer patients aren't getting the proper information about prospective trials, the study reported. "One side of it is education and making sure the patient really understands that it's not going to be an added cost to whatever standard cancer treatment they get," Kathy Albain, Loyola University Medical Center oncologist and study co-author, told the Tribune.

There are, however, possible indirect costs associated with trial participation--like time off work, insurance co-pays and travel expenses--that could discourage low-income patients from enrolling. Researchers still need more data on all the factors keeping certain patients out of trials, but Albain said clinicians should better educate potential participants on the nature of clinical trials and consider assisting with any indirect costs they may have to endure in order to get a broader sampling of populations.

- read the Tribune story

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