Expert Advice | Shining a Light on Equitable AML Care
Expert Advice | Shining a Light on Equitable AML Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
While treatment options are improving, there are still many factors impacting equitable care for AML patients. Dr. Ann-Kathrin Eisfeld shares advice for improving research and clinical trials for underserved AML populations.
Dr. Ann-Kathrin Eisfeld is Director of the Clara D. Bloomfield Center for Leukemia Outcomes Research at The Ohio State University and a member of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James. Learn more about Dr. Eisfeld.
Dr. Eisfeld, we’ve covered a lot of information related to AML care. As a researcher, what other topics are currently top of mind for you in the field of AML? What are you passionate about?
Again, so many parts. I think there are probably three main things that I’d like to name. And I think about it as a little bit outside the box. Most of what we know about AML, we have become so much better. It’s because we have been studying patients who were treated over the past decades on clinical trials and very often here in the U.S. or in Europe.
But all clinical trials have a bias in that most of them have been done A) on patients who are younger than the age of 60. And B) fewer patients of other races and ethnicities included. And had patients not included that have AML, for example, not only in the bone marrow but on extramedullary sites – how we call it – up to 10 percent of their patients. And also, very often have not been done on very old patients where the AML is very common. So, all the patients – patients from other race, ethnicities, or underrepresented minorities, and patients who present with extramedullary disease are currently in my – underserved.
And these are exciting areas and opportunities of research and of active clinical practice. Because those are the patients we need to include if it’s possible now to include them in clinical trials.
If there are no trials available, then make sure any other additional molecular testing it done to understand them better and to advance our disease knowledge that we make sure that we can give the best possible care.
I think that the most important part is to get the molecular testing, and to enroll into clinical trials, and then to very often biobanking.
Why am I saying that is because our knowledge AML comes from patients who donated some tissue so that we could learn – researchers decades ago could learn about the genes. We know that leukemias differ so much in between patients.
So, I am worried that we are yet missing out on potentially important genes that need to be discovered and where we could develop docs for. This will only be possible with these additional testing.
The second part is to really consider going to larger treatment and larger treatment cancer center. And there are support systems in case that can help in here.
And the third part is to get involved even as early as possible even if you’re not personally affected, with Be The Match – with bone marrow transplant because there’s a paucity of donors, of people of color that makes it harder for these patients to get a potentially curative treatment in here.
We have other options now in bone marrow transplant where one can use only half-matching donors and or other availabilities. But again, that doesn’t outweigh that the bone marrow and donor registry that we need to get better at.
And I can – there are just so many factors – such a high degree of structural racism that affects people from every corner. And I think we as physicians, as society, and everybody need to acknowledge that. And we have to make sure that we get better to, again, give every patient the best care and keep the patient in mind and see what’s right for them at the right moment.
Where can patients or people who are interested find out about being a donor?
There is the website called “Be the Match” that one can put in. This is probably the best way to get first information.
And usually, at all the cancer sites. And sometimes, there is information at lab donation places, universities, either or the American Red Cross. Usually those places have information laid out there as well.