Alma Lopez: Better Health Through a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial


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Breast cancer is the top cause of death for Latinas.

But Alma Lopez has been a breast cancer survivor for more than 15 years.

She believes participating in a clinical trial at UT Health San Antonio helped her get better treatment and better long-term health in her survivorship journey.

“Clinical trials are great for finding new treatments that help people,” Lopez said. “And it helps the scientists. It gives opportunity to better medication for all populations. It builds a better future.”

Lopez Chooses a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

About 15 years ago, Lopez was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lopez began weighing her treatment options.

Alma Lopez Breast Cancer Survivor thanks to clinical trials
Alma Lopez

At first, she had doubts about whether to volunteer for a clinical trial. She thought it might take too much time, or cause side effects.

Then she attended a workshop series in San Antonio.

Doctors shared that clinical trials are studies to find more effective treatments, which can help current cancer patients, and/or achieve a better understand breast cancer to help future Latino cancer survivors.

“They explained [clinical trials] very well,” Lopez said.

She ended up choosing to volunteer for a breast cancer clinical trial at UT Health San Antonio.

Lopez knows many of her Latino peers don’t make this choice.

Latinos are underrepresented in clinical research. Without adequate Latino representation in clinical trials, researchers cannot find the treatments and programs that work best for this population.

Latinos need more understanding of how clinical trials can help them, Lopez said.

“More clinical trial workshops should be in Spanish, or bilingual workshops should be conducted,” she said. “Latinos hesitate to attend due to lack of knowledge and lack of trust to medical facilities.”

Lopez’s Experience in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

Lopez attended clinical trial appointments for several weeks.

The experience was a positive one because the trial was local and didn’t require travel.

She also didn’t experience side effects from the medication.

“I believe that my participation in the clinical trial helped me get a new medication, which helped me to recover from cancer,” Lopez said.

While a breast cancer diagnosis changed her life 15 years ago, she is now cancer-free and healthy, which she credits to the clinical trial.

She said she’d choose a clinical trial again if given the choice.

“If we don’t participate, it won’t help the doctors to understand our problems,” Lopez said.

How Can You Get Involved in Cancer Clinical Trials?

You can be like Alma Lopez!

We need Latino volunteers for clinical trials because it helps researchers create treatments and solutions tailored for this population.

Dr. Amelie Ramirez, leader of Salud America! UT Health San Antonio is creating new ways to encourage Latinos to volunteer for cancer and Alzheimer’s clinical trials. This work is supported by a grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

“Latinos in clinical trials are not only helping themselves, but they are also building a future with better treatments that can help their families and communities in the future,” Ramirez said.

AHEAD Clinical Trial Familias Memory Decline PreventIf you’re in San Antonio, volunteer for:

  • A cancer clinical trial at the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio
  • An Alzheimer’s disease clinical trial at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio
  • The AHEAD Trial. For people ages 55-80, this trial aims to protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, giving you the chance to contribute to healthier futures for your mom, dad, and and other family members.
  • The REACH Trial. For people ages 55-89 with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, this trial aims evaluate a new treatment that aims to slow the effects of the disease.

You can also use the National Cancer Institute’s online search tool or call 1-800-4-CANCER to find a cancer clinical trial in your area!

Explore More:

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Expected rise in Latino cancer cases in coming years

This success story was produced by Salud America! with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The stories are intended for educational and informative purposes. References to specific policymakers, individuals, schools, policies, or companies have been included solely to advance these purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation. Stories are based on and told by real community members and are the opinions and views of the individuals whose stories are told. Organization and activities described were not supported by Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and do not necessarily represent the views of Salud America! or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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