Multiple myeloma is the second-most-common type of blood cancer in the world, with an estimated 34,920 new cases and 12,410 deaths expected to occur in the United States in 2021. The development of novel agents and advancements in therapeutic approaches has led to significant improvements in patient prognosis, increasing the five-year relative survival rate to 56.5 percent.
Despite this progress, research has shown that the incidence rate of myeloma in Black Americans is two to three times higher than in other populations — and the death rates are higher as well.
While Black Americans represent approximately 20 percent of patients in the United States, they account for 4.5 percent of clinical trial participants in myeloma indications.
At COTA, we use real-world data (RWD) to explore differences in tumor biology, treatment patterns, and outcomes to further characterize disparities in underrepresented and underserved populations. As part of this effort, we leveraged the COTA Real World Database to characterize time to first-line treatment, the most common first-line therapies, and rate of stem cell transplants for a cohort of 800 Black and White patients. While the same therapies were available to both groups of patients, Black patients waited longer to receive those treatments. Even though the causes of disparities are multifactorial, unequal access to care is known to affect myeloma outcomes.
Leveraging RWD to gain insight into cancer health disparities affecting underserved populations is key to ensuring equitable access, care, and outcomes for all patients. In addition, guidance provided by some of COTA’s partners and leading cancer organizations when it comes to addressing racial bias in myeloma clinical trials should be adopted in the months and years ahead to reduce cancer health disparities moving forward.