Glenview researchers work to combat racial disparities in acute leukemia treatment studies

GLENVIEW, Ill. (WLS) -- Doctors have said the racial disparities are glaring when it comes to acute leukemia research.

But the Leukemia Research Foundation has been setting out to fix that by funding studies that directly address the need for more information involving Black people and cancer treatments.

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"We know there is an incredible disparity, inequity in the way Caucasian people have been studied so far, and all of our knowledge derives from that," said Hematologist Dr. Ann-Kathrin Eisfeld.

Medical experts said there are notable genetic differences between Black and white patients and those differences can significantly affect the outcome of a cancer patient's treatment.

"We noted that, the frequency in which these changes occur and also the way that they occur are very different in black and white patients," Eisfeld said.

Eisfeld is a hematologist whose research focuses on pinpointing the best treatments for acute myeloid leukemia patients, all while taking their genetic make-up into account.

"When we compare patients who seemingly the same cancer genetic background, black patients do way worse than white patients," Eisfeld said.

With the help of grant funding through the Leukemia Research Foundation, results from Eisfeld's unpublished studies uncovered that white patients can live up to 10 years longer with treatment compared to Black patients. She said more studies are the key to giving all patients a better chance at life.

"It starts with getting patients, from, all ethnicities, all backgrounds enrolled into clinical trial because clinical trials are what advances us," Eisfeld said.

Eisfeld said she and her team are committed to the fight against cancer but they need help battling the lack of information.

"We need more patients," Eisfeld said. "This disparity has been going on for such a long time."

The Leukemia Research Foundation, headquartered in Glenview, Illinois is a proud partner of the "ABC7 Jim Gibbons 5K Run, 3K Walk and Survivors' Strut." The foundation focuses on funding research that will hopefully lead to a cure for cancer. Jim Gibbons is a former ABC7 reporter who died from leukemia in 1994.
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