Incidence and mortality rates for cancers vary by ethnic background and patient age. Accrual of diverse patient populations to cancer clinical trials is essential in order to ensure that findings related to new management strategies can be generalized. The goal of this study was to evaluate accrual patterns for patients participating in the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) cancer protocols. Ethnic diversity among clinical trial investigators may also influence accrual patterns, so the ethnic background of the ACOSOG membership was also evaluated. Demographics for the patients registered on ACOSOG breast, thoracic, and colorectal clinical trials were evaluated and compared with data on the general population and the cancer population in the United States. Accrual patterns for patients from other reported cancer clinical trials were also presented, and the self-reported ethnic distribution of the ACOSOG membership was analyzed. Distribution of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans to the ACOSOG breast and colorectal clinical trials was relatively proportionate to the cancer population. African Americans were underrepresented in the thoracic clinical trials, and this disparity was partially offset by data on the proportion of African Americans with stage-eligible lung cancer. Accrual rates for patients age 65 years and older were better than those reported by most other clinical trialists. Elderly patients are successfully recruited into surgical clinical trials, and this will provide important data for future analyses regarding cancer outcomes in this growing population of cancer patients. Aggressive outreach to minority-ethnicity cancer patients for accrual into clinical trials should continue.
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