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BACKGROUND: Ensuring representative data accrual in clinical trials is important to safeguard the generalizability of results and to minimize disparities in care. This study's goal was to evaluate differences in gender representation in trials leading to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cancer drug approvals.

METHODS: An observational study was conducted from January 2014 to April 2019 using PubMed and the National Institutes of Health trials registry for primary trial reports. The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program and US Census were consulted for national cancer incidence. The outcome was an enrollment incidence disparity (EID), which was calculated as the difference between male and female trial enrollment and national incidence, with positive values representing male overrepresentation.

RESULTS: There were 149 clinical trials with 59,988 participants-60.3% and 39.7% were male and female, respectively-leading to 127 oncology drug approvals. The US incidence rates were 55.4% for men versus 44.6% for women. Gender representation varied by specific tumor type. Most notably, women were underrepresented in thyroid cancer (EID, +27.4%), whereas men were underrepresented in soft tissue cancer (EID, -26.1%). Overall, women were underrepresented when compared with expected incidence (EID, +4.9%; 42% of trials).

CONCLUSIONS: For many specific tumor types, women are underrepresented in clinical trials leading to FDA oncology drug approvals. It is critical to better align clinical trial cohort demographics and the populations to which these data will be extrapolated.

LAY SUMMARY: This study assesses whether gender disparities exist in clinical trials leading to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cancer drug approvals. From January 2014 to April 2019, 149 clinical trials leading to FDA oncology drug approvals showed 60.3% and 39.7% of the enrollees were male and female, respectively. Gender representation varied by specific tumor when compared with the expected incidence rate of cancer in the United States, although women were more often underrepresented. Increased efforts are needed with regard to ensuring equitable representation in oncology clinical trials.

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ePub ahead of print

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