SAN ANTONIO – Clinical trials are ways doctors around the country can find successful treatments for medical issues like cancer.
And UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center has 240 open clinical trials.
The problem doctors see here is that less than 6% of individuals who sign up for clinical trials are of minority descent.
That means for folks who have a particular cancer, the treatment might not work as effectively because the treatments out there are predominantly based on a general population and not reflective of the community.
Elsada Wilson went through clinical trials here in San Antonio and it saved her life.
“Today I feel great,” Wilson said. “I have to say I was fortunate in a way because I had breast cancer. And the first thing you think about, ‘not me, this is the end, what can I do?’”
Dr. Amelie Ramirez, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences, said the center hopes Wilson’s action will motivate others.
“In cases like Mrs. Wilson, she came in, she took action," she said. “She took part in a clinical trial that gave her that new treatment that worked even more effectively for her. So that’s the message we really want to get out there."
The Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, wants people to know what a clinical trial is, its impact and benefits, and how the doctors here are at the forefront of Latino cancer research in the community.
“By 2030, cancer in Latinos is supposed to increase by 142%,” Ramirez said. “We are the largest minority population at this time, representing 16% of the U.S. population."
"But very little is known about our heterogeneity, we need to know more about how those drugs work with us.”
Ramirez said patients benefit because they are getting treatment, and in many cases, it’s the latest medical advancement.
“We do a lot of prevention trials. And so sometimes there might be an incentive to participate, such as $25 or a gift certificate. But most of all, you know, for general trials, it’s really the improvement of treatment," she said.
"And so many times the patients don’t need any incentive because of that."
As for Wilson, she is thrilled to be able to live her life cancer-free and wants to use her story to help save others.
“I would like to be part of it to help other people. Also, you know, a race for the cure, you always hear those words about that,” Wilson said.