A call to action: Dismantling racial injustices in preclinical research and clinical care of black patients living with small cell lung cancer

Portia L. Thomas, Chioma J. Madubata, Melinda C. Aldrich, Montessa M. Lee, Taofeek K. Owonikoko, John D. Minna, Charles M. Rudin, Julien Sage, Christine M. Lovly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive disease with dismal survival rates and limited therapeutic options. SCLC development is strongly associated with exposure to tobacco carcinogens. However, additional genetic and environmental risk factors that contribute to SCLC pathogenesis are beginning to emerge. Here, we specifically assess disparities pertaining to SCLC in Black populations. In contrast to non–small cell lung cancer, preliminary data suggest that Black individuals may actually be at a lower risk of developing SCLC relative to white individuals. This difference remains unexplained but urgently needs to be verified in larger data sets, because it could provide important new insights and approaches to understanding this recalcitrant tumor. Impor-tantly, little biological information exists on SCLC in Black individuals, and few patient-derived preclinical SCLC models from diverse ancestries are available in the laboratory. Unfortunately, we note strikingly low numbers of Black participants in clinical trials testing new treatments for SCLC. Evidence further indicates that care for patients with SCLC may vary between communities with a large fraction of Black patients and those without. Together, these observations underscore the need to better investigate genetic, environmental, and socioeco-nomic factors associated with SCLC development, preclinical research, clinical care, and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-244
Number of pages5
JournalCancer discovery
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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