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Expert Assesses Challenges of Disparity in Lung Cancer

Gina Columbus @ginacolumbusonc
Published: Tuesday, Jan 02, 2018

Loretta Erhunmwunsee, MD

Loretta Erhunmwunsee, MD
With a rapidly evolving treatment paradigm such as non–small cell lung cancer, it is imperative that researchers and clinicians appropriately treat patients on an individualized basis—especially those who are considered to have racial and socioeconomic disparities.

on Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer, Erhunmwunsee, a thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at City of Hope, lectured on the racial and socioeconomic disparities in lung cancer trials. In an interview during the meeting, she detailed more of these differences, what drives them, and how personalized medicine impacts some of these patient populations.

OncLive: What are the disparities in lung cancer that you presented on?

Erhunmwunsee: I reviewed the fact that there are racial and socioeconomic status disparities as it relates to every type of treatment, whether it be surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. We also discussed the fact that there are these same disparities in clinical trial participation. The reason this is important is that we sort of move the envelope toward more personalized medicine with checkpoint inhibition and other molecular strategies. It’s important to understand that our trials are underrepresented by certain groups; some of these groups are the most vulnerable.

What drives these disparities?

What is so interesting is that it’s multifactorial; there are so many different things that impact the fact that race and socioeconomic status are important. There are genomic and genetic differences, right? One of the slides [I presented] showed that EGFR mutations might be very different in African-American men than in Asian men. A MET mutation is certainly different.
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