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UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Toni Carter — “As African Americans we need to participate in trials to make it a better world — and for our own benefit”

Toni Carter

At 63, Toni Carter is as spry and quick as most 40-year-olds. And as a grandmother three busy grandchildren, she needs to be.

Ms. Carter, of Sacramento, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2011. Hers was a complicated diagnosis that has fewer treatment options than some: triple negative. Soon afterward she had a lumpectomy, followed with chemotherapy and radiation. She completed her treatments in May 2012.

Dr. Jyoti Mayadev, Ms. Carter’s radiation oncologist, told her she was a candidate for a large randomized clinical trial investigating the role of “accelerated partial breast radiation.” The trial compares standard whole breast radiation, which takes up to six weeks to complete, versus treatment designed to conform the radiation dose to the tumor cavity and lasts just five days.

“Ms. Carter’s participation was instrumental in providing future breast cancer patients with the needed information for optimal breast radiation therapy,” Mayadev said.

Ms. Carter, who is African American, said she was eager to participate. “I know that for various reasons – social, economic, psychological and attitudinal – African Americans often are not included in clinical trials. And I know that if we’re not included, they don’t know how the drugs or other treatments are going to affect African Americans.

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"I joined a clinical trial because I want to make it a better world for my daughter and grandchildren. Hopefully, by the time they’re old enough to face the possibility of cancer, there will be a cure or more effective treatments."

Toni Carter, Sacramento
Breast cancer clinical trial participant

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“If I am eligible to participate in a trial I will,” she continued.

She added that she doesn’t feel the trial put her at any greater risk, and may have actually improved her odds of long-term survival, giving her more time with her grandchildren Zaniyah, 10, Alina, 9, and David, 4 and her daughter and son-in-law, Michaelin and David Williams.

“Years ago, breast cancer was a death sentence. But it no longer is because they found new drug treatments and technologies that allow us not only to live longer but to overcome the disease,” she said. “As African Americans, we need to participate in trials to make it a better world – and for our own benefit.”