Increasing Access to Blood Cancer Clinical Trials

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is providing grants to increase trial enrollment of ethnic and racial minorities.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently launched an innovative Influential Medicine Providing Access to Clinical Trials (IMPACT) research grants program to increase access to clinical trials for underserved patients with blood cancers.

“To get the full benefit of cancer research, we need clinical trials to reflect the diversity of the U.S. population. But this is also about health equity, which is central to the LLS mission. Blood cancer does not discriminate, and people of every age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status are affected and deserve the same choices in their care,” said Lee Greenberger, Ph.D., LLS chief scientific officer in a press release.

The IMPACT research grants award funding as a $3.75 million five-year program to establish a “hub and spoke” infrastructure with clinical trial sites in local community-based hospitals and clinics with underserved populations. Mayo Clinic in the upper Midwest, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the rural south, and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City will receive the first round of funding for blood cancer research.

The Mayo Clinic Center program will address major barriers to clinical trial enrollment for minority patients with blood cancer and focus on economically disadvantaged minorities in urban areas. Vanderbilt University Medical Center will offer the option to enroll in 10 clinical trials across seven blood cancer types. In addition to expanding clinical trial access, Weill Cornell Medicine will provide education and training for community physicians and oncologists.

According to Healthy People 2030, healthy equity is defined as “the attainment of the highest level of health for all people.” LLS has played an integral role through multiple advocacy efforts toward health equity for all blood cancer patients. Myeloma Link is a community-based outreach and education program for African American communities that provides free myeloma information and support to enhance access to care and the latest treatment options. Black Americans have twice the incidence of myeloma as white Americans. Additionally, Black Americans are less likely to receive the latest therapies and more likely to experience delays in treatment, which ultimately leads to worse health outcomes.

LLS staff and volunteers in 13 Black communities across the United States provide free resources to enhance patient care. More than 30,000 individuals have received care through more than 250 educational programs as part of Myeloma Link. Outreach is provided through partnerships with a variety of community and faith-based organizations such as churches, senior centers, and libraries. Healthcare provider-led patient education programs focus on resources for patients, families, and caregivers, and individuals are connected to specialists.