Ashwani Rajput, MD, FACS

Funded by the V Foundation’s Virginia Vine event

Cancer is a leading cause of sickness and death around the world, with limited treatment options available for people whose disease has progressed or spread. While new treatments have improved how long people can live with cancer, lifespan for those whose disease has spread has seen far less improvement. One reason for this is the cancer’s ability to become resistant, or “immune,” to treatment. A new method of treating cancer, called precision oncology, uses molecular testing to not only understand how and why a tumor grows, but also how it can begin to become resistant to treatments that may have once worked.

One challenge, however, is that access to this molecular testing is not always available to all groups of people. This unequal access, based on race and other factors, can have a measurable impact on cancer patients’ lives — in a recent study, black patients were 38% less likely to receive this type of testing compared to white patients. Through our research, we hope to change this to create a more equal approach to cancer treatment regardless of race or other factors. To do this, we will create a high quality molecular testing program in the DC region, with particular attention to communities in need of more equal access to these treatment approaches. By including all racial groups more equally in this research, we will also be able to better answer future research questions in a way that does not exclude any groups of people.

Location: Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins - Baltimore
Proposal: Targeted Therapy for BRIDGE DC— Addressing Therapeutic Resistance with Cancer Genomics through a Lens of Health Equity
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