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Unlocking Early Value: Real-World Trends in Prostate Cancer Diagnoses and Treatments

Author: Verana Health
July 2021
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Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older men and the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the U.S. after lung cancer. Real-world data on early-stage prostate cancer can offer valuable insights to researchers and physicians on initial diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes, as is highlighted in a recent research collaboration between Verana Health and the American Urological Association (AUA).

AQUA Registry Data Offers Unique Focus on Early Prostate Cancer

The study’s findings revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic sharply curtailed access to outpatient care for men with prostate cancer in the United States across all risk groups, particularly for those with low-risk disease. Findings of the study were presented by Matt Cooperberg, MD, MPH, professor of urology and epidemiology & biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), June 4-8.

The study documented national, real-world trends in prostate cancer diagnoses and treatment during the pandemic in 2020, using data from the AUA Quality Registry (AQUA), a national Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) designed to measure, report, and improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes. For this study, 158 U.S. urology practices contributed data from their practices’ electronic health records (EHRs) through their participation in the AQUA registry. 

Researchers looked at prostate cancer visits, use of diagnostic procedures such as prostate biopsies, and prostate cancer treatments, including surgical prostatectomy and radiation administration across different patient risk categories. Mean daily prostate cancer visits per urology practice declined sharply among all risk categories, but the steepest drop was for visits for low-risk prostate cancer patients, which decline nearly 50% from the previous year after the start of the pandemic. 

Growing Collaboration Advances Mission to Share Real-World Data  

This study underscores the value of analyzing real-world healthcare data to track early-stage prostate cancer care changes as they unfold. Most of the real-world data on early-stage prostate cancer—as well as other genitourinary cancers, including bladder and upper tract urothelial cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and testicular cancer—are generated by urologists. This is because urologists usually perform the diagnostic procedures for these types of cancers and direct the initial treatments. One of the few ways to obtain these types of data is through the AQUA Registry. 

Verana Health and the AUA’s collaboration has enabled the two organizations to characterize early-stage prostate cancer using data unique to this urology database. Given that prostate cancer is a slowly progressing disease, we will continue to curate the dataset to further understand the downstream impact of the pandemic-related decline in visits and procedures over the next several years. 

As our relationship with the AUA evolves, we will also continue to curate the AQUA Registry data to focus upon all types of genitourinary cancers with the goal of understanding these diseases better using real-world data while helping to improve treatments and also patient health and outcomes. Verana Health’s collaboration with AUA is also part of our broader mission to leverage real-world data to transform clinical research by developing a world-class, scalable technology platform across multiple therapeutic areas to collect, normalize, curate, and analyze near real-time EHR data from any EHR system used by medical specialty practices across the United States.