Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality Persist, Oncology Pharmacy Can Make a Difference

Pharmacy Times Oncology Edition, October 2022, Volume 4, Issue 5

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, providing the opportunity for oncology pharmacy professionals to place a microscope on topics surrounding this disease. At the 15th American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, Julie R. Palmer, ScD, MPH, explained how racial disparities in breast cancer mortality have remained a problem for over 20 years without signs of amelioration. In 2022, despite the attention paid to this issue in the field, Black women still have a 40% higher mortality rate from breast cancer than White women.

At the AACR conference, Palmer explained further that several research teams are conducting investigations into the causality of this racial disparity. However, she noted the causes are likely multifactorial in nature, indicating the need for further data to paint a clearer picture of the tapestry of issues leading to this ongoing disparity. As the research continues, the goal of addressing treatment issues for all populations with breast cancer remains a focus for oncology pharmacists, who are at the forefront in calling attention to problems related to access issues for medically disadvantaged populations.

In the cover story on page 16, authors Michelle Nguyen; Grace Baek, PharmD, BCOP; Arianne Duong, PharmD, BCOP; and Dane Fritzsche, PharmD, BCOP, discuss oral oncolytics for the treatment of hormone receptor–positive and HER2-negative early-stage breast cancer in the adjuvant setting. The authors provide an overview of 3 recently FDA-approved oral oncolytic medications that have shown promise in improving disease-free survival for this common disease subtype.

Additionally, on page 33, Sarah Schmidt, PharmD, BCOP, addresses quadruplet vs triplet regimens in up-front multiple myeloma (MM) treatment, as data have demonstrated quadruplet regimens may be a viable option for MM. On page 44, Samantha Brongiel, PharmD, BCOP, discusses the use of FDA approved tebentafusp-tebn (Kimmtrak; Immunocore) for the treatment of adult patients with human leukocyte antigen-A*02:01–positive unresectable or metastatic uveal melanoma. Tebentafusp-tebn represents a new class of drug for the treatment of this disease subtype.

With progress in drug development comes progress in disease treatment, providing more opportunities to address disparities among diverse populations across the United States, with oncology pharmacy at the helm.