Trial Diversity

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 8:20am

Doctors take on African-Americans' reluctance to take part in clinical medical trials.

Medical oncologist Dr. Sandra Swain is leading a new initiative at Washington Hospital Center to recruit more African American patients in trials.

She says past incidents make it a tough sell, things like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, where government researchers experimented on 399 black men from 1932 to 1972.

They never gave the men the treatment they needed and many ended up dying.

"The other one is fear and distrust over the whole medical establishment and a lot of things have happened over the years, including Tuskegee where African Americans were not informed of their rights," she explains.

Swain says treatments need to be tested on a variety of people because diseases like cancer effect everyone differently.

"For example, African American women have a much higher incidence of triple negative breast cancer and that is a form of breast cancer that's very aggressive," Dr. Swain says.

Washington Hospital Center's initiative is part of a federal grant.

The program is creating a video to educate patients on the benefits of clinical trials.

They hope this will better inform people.

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