Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine in the University of Arizona Division of Hematology and Oncology and Cancer Biology – Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP), director of the Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Program and leader of the UA Cancer Center’s breast cancer clinical research team, is working to improve awareness of clinical trials for breast cancer patients.
Dr. Chalasani recently was awarded a grant through the V Foundation, a privately funded charitable organization that champions “Victory Over Cancer.” Dr. Chalasani will spearhead this grant at the UA Cancer Center to improve outreach to potential clinical trial patients. The project—“Campaign to Improve Access to Clinical Trials” (D2018-027)—is funded for $58,000 for one year.
“I’m hoping to help break down some of the barriers that keep people from reaping the benefits of clinical trials,” Dr. Chalasani says. “We’d like to expand community awareness, streamline the process and bust some of the myths about clinical trials.”
Through social media, radio ads and participation in community events, she hopes to find effective strategies to engage a broader and more diverse portion of the population. This outreach starts with raising awareness about clinical trials.
“Right now, a lot of stigma and fear surround clinical trials,” says Dr. Chalasani. “People are suspicious of experimental drugs. As clinicians, we need to do a better job of explaining the process to patients.”
Dr. Chalasani also aims to involve nurse navigators and financial advisers in educating patients and to provide them with a comprehensive overview of the clinical trial process. She would also like to expand outreach and education to Native-American and Hispanic communities — two groups that are underrepresented in clinical trials. Her team will welcome Spanish-speaking nurse navigators and hopes to talk to tribal leaders to understand the cultural barriers faced by Native Americans.
“To be inclusive of more people, we need to learn more about the cultures in Southern Arizona,” she says. “That will help us understand the barriers that underserved populations are facing and how we can reach them in culturally specific, sensitive ways.”
Dr. Chalasani hopes that these combined efforts will improve enrollment in breast cancer clinical trials that truly reflect the community. If her efforts are successful, her winning strategies likely will be adopted by other disease teams.
ACT AGAINST CANCER: Acting Locally
This article first appeared as “Acting Locally: Expanding Clinical Trials Across Arizona” in the Fall 2018 edition of the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Act Against Cancer newsletter. Other articles in the issue include:
- “On Trial: From the Laboratory Bench to the Pharmacy Shelves”
- “PATIENT PROFILE: Kristie Kilkelly”
- “DONOR-SCIENTIST PARTNERSHIPS: Ginny L. Clements and Joyce Schroeder”
- “PATIENT PROFILE: Christopher Smiley”
- “As Dry as the Desert in July: Fighting Dry Mouth in Head-and-Neck Cancer Survivors”
- “Prevention in a Pill: The Selenium Story”
- “Building Bridges and Building Trust: Improving Diversity in Clinical Trials”
“UA Cancer Researchers Push New Frontiers in Immunotherapy” | Posted April 5, 2018