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V Foundation Grant Will Aid Preeti Subhedar's Effort to Increase Minority Enrollment in Breast Cancer Trials at Grady Memorial Hospital

March 2017

Emory breast surgical oncologist Preeti Subhedar, MD, has provided breast cancer treatment at the AVON Comprehensive Breast Center at Grady Memorial Hospital since joining the Department of Surgery in September 2015. Her research interest in breast cancer treatment disparities has also found a perfect home at Grady, which largely serves an urban patient population, 85 percent of whom are African American. With the assistance of a new $45k mission grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research, Dr. Subhedar will begin working towards solving the problem of low levels of participation by African American and Hispanic American women in breast cancer clinical trials.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research is a non-profit charity founded by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, former NC State basketball coach, award-winning sports broadcaster, and cancer patient. One hundred percent of direct donations to the foundation are used for cancer research and related programs.

"African American women diagnosed with breast cancer continue to have poorer outcomes and higher mortality compared to Caucasian women,"says Dr. Subhedar. "While significant progress has been made in breast cancer research due to information gathered from clinical trials, minority patients account for less than 10 percent of clinical trial participants. This grant will help to identify the specific barriers and motivators that affect minority involvement in clinical trials."

The first step of Dr. Subhedar's effort will be to gain an understanding of the predominant opinions and views minority patients have towards clinical trials, since addressing misconceptions and filling knowledge gaps are essential to changing behaviors. "It is important to understand what our patients know about clinical trials, and then figure out the most effective way to educate patients on why enrollment in clinical trials is beneficial," she says.

In addition to the V Foundation study, Dr. Subhedar is the Emory principal investigator for the Alliance 11202 multi-institutional study sponsored by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, and principal investigator of a Service, Education and Advocacy Grant from the Emory Medical Care Foundation (EMCF). The Alliance trial is comparing the benefit of axillary dissection vs axillary radiation in node positive patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and was recently approved to open at Grady and will begin recruiting patients soon. For the EMCF grant, Dr. Subhedar will be assessing the functional breast health literacy of patients at Grady and the educational resources to which they are most receptive.

"We have several breast cancer trials at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University that are wonderful opportunities for our patients," says Dr. Subhedar. "It is important that such trials be available at Grady. I am excited to bring these opportunities to Grady and learn how best to successfully enroll our minority patients."

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