COMPPARE Consortium Spotlight: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Founded in Houston, TX, in 1941, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) has a distinguished history as one of the nation’s original three comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Act of 1971 and is currently one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers.

In 2021 alone, MDACC treated over 150,000 cancer patients at six locations in the greater Houston area. Principal Investigator, Professor of Radiation Oncology, and Section Chief of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology Seungtaek Choi, MD and his team were particularly successful in enrolling both photon and proton randomized control trial (RCT) patients in the COMPPARE study.

“We spent more time with patients going over the study so that they understood what is involved,” Dr. Choi reports. “We noticed improved accrual once we started to screen all patients and educate physicians treating prostate patients at all of our locations.”

Shalin J. Shah, MD, Professor of Radiation Oncology and Section Chief of the Houston Area Locations, advises partner sites to conduct an initial education session with all faculty who treat prostate cancer patients and incorporate accrual conversations during weekly QA conferences. Dr. Shah also believes MDACC is particularly well positioned to increase minority patient participation.

“Harris County, where MD Anderson’s main campus is located, and the surrounding counties have been named amongst the most diverse counties in the nation,” he relates. “By leveraging our Houston Area Locations to drive enrollment, we can offer this important protocol to a diverse range of patients.”

Like many other COMPPARE partner sites, Nancy Philip, BS, CCRP, Senior Clinical Studies Coordinator, found a staffing shortage within the research team combined with the demands of multiple trials initially challenging. Despite this, Ms. Philip relates that great teamwork is key to approaching a large study like COMPPARE, which involves screening, enrollments, data entry and surveys.

“We also found that a method of bulk screening and list generation in EPIC – which we then applied to our artificial intelligence software to screen patients – picked up the momentum and the referrals from our physicians,” she said.

In addition, according to Neethu Mathew, MS, Research Data Coordinator, “Screening the patients two to three weeks ahead of the schedule helps us with better planning and enables us to enroll more participants.”

Ultimately, the MDACC team relates that the importance of the COMPPARE study lies in its capacity to help determine effective treatments, reduce side effects, and enhance quality of life for prostate cancer patients.

“Prospective data has been very limited in the literature regarding the efficacy of proton vs. photon treatment,” said Dr. Choi. “A large trial such as COMPPARE should offer crucial information to help answer that question.”

Our COMPPARE Consortium Spotlight provides insight into the successes of our partner proton and photon centers across the U.S. We are grateful to Dr. Choi and his team for their input and dedicated participation in COMPPARE, and we appreciate all partner sites working so diligently to improve prostate cancer outcomes for men.