Research Evangelist: UC expert discusses improving accessibility to lung cancer treatments

The University of Cincinnati Cancer Center's Robert Van Haren, MD, recently joined the Research Evangelist podcast to discuss advancements in lung cancer care. He said while there are exciting advancements in treatments, it is important to continue to work to address disparities in accessibility to the best treatments.

Van Haren noted Black and Hispanic patients have been greatly underrepresented in recent Phase 3 worldwide trials that enroll many patients.

"With these great new breakthroughs, how do we make this accessible to all patients rather than a certain subset of patients? Because there’s even the potential to widen some of the disparities in outcomes that we’re seeing," said Van Haren, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Thoracic Surgery in UC’s College of Medicine and a UC Health thoracic surgeon. 

Van Haren said research and work to address these disparities have included no longer requiring patients to stop smoking prior to lung cancer resection and a pilot study that examined patient/physician relationships and trust. 

"We found about 20% of patients declined the surgery recommended to them, and those patients were more likely to be Black or African American, more likely to have food and housing instability and more likely to report poor patient/physician relationsihps," he said.

The Cancer Center's lung cancer team is taking concrete steps including strengthening integrative supportive services, working closely with community navigators and conducting cultural humility training to improve care for all patients, Van Haren said.

"Just because you’re doing something equally doesn’t necessarily mean it’s equitable, and that’s what we’re going to try to tackle with the next projects," he said.

Listen to the Research Evangelist podcast.

Featured photo at top of Van Haren. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Marketing + Brand.

Related Stories