The following article features coverage from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2019 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

During a 12-month period, 8 United States-based cancer centers and 14 individual leaders in the oncology clinical trial space reported that the accrual of racial and ethnic minority groups (REMGs) into their clinical trials increased within the range of 10% to 50%.1

Researchers conducted interviews with these centers and some prominent leaders in clinical cancer care to learn how to boost the accrual of patients with diverse backgrounds. This initiative is crucial to precision medicine and the development of therapies that address race- and ethnicity-specific differences in certain cancer subtypes.

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High accrual of diverse populations in cancer clinical trials “requires coordination of an operational framework governed by metrics,” the researchers wrote. 

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The overarching qualities of the cancer centers that “did it well” — that is, those that had higher-than-average accrual rates of diverse individuals — had the following operational systems in place: a metric collection and reporting approach; a history of routinely capturing race and ethnicity data and making it accessible to research staff; methods to sustain patient participation during clinical trials; strategies to decrease recruitment time and optimize clinical study design; and low-resource approaches for improving accrual. 

“There was also a commitment to establish processes that support the patient’s provider as the key influencer of patient recruitment into clinical trials,” noted the study authors.

Norman Sharpless, MD, FAACR, current director of the National Cancer Institute and future acting commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said at the conclusion of the meeting’s opening ceremony that the NCI has “focused on accrual to clinical trials … [and has] eliminated restrictive eligibility criteria for cancer trials. As an example, this past November, [the] NCI implemented new inclusion and exclusion criteria for trials conducted through [their] largest networks.”2 

Disclosure: The presenters disclosed financial ties to various pharmaceutical companies. For a full list of disclosures, please see the original abstract.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of AACR 2019 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Regnante JM, Richie NA, Fashoyin-Aje L, et al. US cancer centers of excellence coordination of operational strategies contribute to enhanced accrual of racial and ethnic minorities in clinical trials. Presented at: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019; March 29-April 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA. Abstract LB-012/4.
  2. Sharpless, N. Opening ceremony. Presented at: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019; March 29-April 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA. Accessed March 31, 2019.