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Cancer Research Needs People from All Backgrounds

Cancer research needs people...: A group of diverse people standing together indoors.

The goal of cancer research is to advance treatments and medical care for everyone.

The goal of cancer research is to advance treatments and care for everyone. While the number of people from different backgrounds who take part in cancer research has increased over time, we need your help to make more progress.

Examples of diversity

To make sure everyone benefits from cancer research, all types of people with different lived experiences and living conditions need to participate. Some examples of differences include:

  • age
  • race 
  • ethnicity
  • sex, gender, or sexual orientation
  • where people live
  • education
  • income
  • health insurance status
  • ability to find, understand, and use health information
  • trust in medicine or doctors

Any of these can influence whether someone gets cancer, how they respond to treatment, or their quality of life.

How diversity improves cancer research 

Headshot of Barbara Segurra-Valazquez

“Joining a trial [is a] way to represent your community. We need more Latinos and other minorities to participate in trials, so we know if new treatments work for people of all races and ethnicities.” Barbara Segarra-Vazquez, DHSc, cancer survivor

Diversity in research participants helps improve understanding of cancer and how it grows and spreads in people from different backgrounds. We can also learn how safe new treatments are for all types of bodies. 

Having participants from different communities can help researchers understand barriers that patients face, which could improve how studies are designed. Detection and diagnosis could improve across populations, and data from studies with diverse participants could help doctors recommend the best treatments for each person. 

Everyone can take part

NCI and many other institutions are making cancer research more inclusive by: 

  • making it easier for all people to participate in studies
  • working with community and advocacy organizations to reach underrepresented groups
  • improving diversity in the cancer research workforce
  • designing cancer clinical trials and research studies that encourage equal access and diversity

Ways to participate in cancer research

But we still need your help. Your participation in research could help people in the future with a similar background to you live a longer, healthier life. Here are some ways that you can be part of progress:

National Cancer Plan

Increasing diversity in cancer research supports the National Cancer Plan goals of eliminating inequities and engaging every person. Learn more about the goals >