Minorities, women, and clinical cancer research: the charge, promise, and challenge

Ann Epidemiol. 2000 Nov;10(8 Suppl):S3-12. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(00)00200-3.


Significant progress has been made since the war against cancer was launched. Discoveries in molecular medicine, genetics, and epidemiology have led to the recognition that certain cancers are potentially preventable and that elements of lifestyle, along with genetic, hormonal, and metabolic factors can be altered to reduce cancer risk. Advances in medical technology have led to the development of new imaging methods and computer technologies that can aid in efforts to detect, diagnosis, and treat cancer. Since the offensive against cancer was initiated, cancer treatments have become more powerful, more precise, less drastic, and safer. As a result, cancer incidence and mortality have begun to decline. Yet, while the nation boasts of the progress being achieved relative to cancer incidence and mortality, and federal research agencies retort that research applies to all populations, it is apparent that the declines do not translate to all populations in the United States. Clinical research is essential to cancer prevention and control. Within the oncology community, clinical cancer research trials are viewed as an efficient and economical way for patients to secure state-of-the-science medical care. Recognizing the need to improve access to state-of-the-science cancer treatment and control programs, minority and female participation in clinical cancer research trials has been encouraged. This recommendation is based on the belief that increased participation in well-designed clinical cancer research trials adhering to strict protocols and quality controls will, not only help validate the application of research findings to minority and female populations, but also result in better patient outcomes. Born out of a commitment to social equity, justice, beneficence, and the desire to ensure that data relevant to cancer prevention and control are both valid and generalizable to populations across the United States, several programs of research aimed toward increasing the representation of women and minorities in clinical cancer research have been pursued by the National Cancer Institute. This issue of the Annals of Epidemiology Minorities, Women, and Clinical Cancer Research presents issues and challenges that face the research community and descriptions of effective models, strategies, and practices that may be used to increase the participation of minorities and women in clinical cancer research trials and facilitate the conduct of research directed toward reducing the cancer burden within the United States.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups*
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Research*
  • SEER Program
  • Social Justice
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*