A Message from Dr. Nancy Mendenhall – Spring 2021

Dr. Nancy Mendenhall

Dear COMPPARE team, participants, stakeholders and friends,

I am pleased to announce that as of May 11 we have reached 50% (n=1500) of our project accrual goal! This is remarkable given the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19. We are also excited to report that 100% of our partner sites have now enrolled at least one patient! In light of these challenges and accomplishments, on March 31 PCORI approved an adjustment to the COMPPARE Milestone timeline allowing for an extension of the originally approved Milestone dates. Our goal is to now be finished with accrual by the end of September 2022.

As we look forward to the normal resumption of our work, we ask you to join us in an effort to encourage all men to get back to having their prostates checked annually in order to detect cancers early. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School delivered sobering news regarding the impact of the COVID-19 on prostate cancer screenings in July 2020 during a symposium presented by the American Association for Cancer Research. The study compared rates of PSA testing for screening and diagnosis in the first five months of 2020 with the same period in 2019: PSA testing to screen for or diagnose prostate cancer fell from 34.4 men per 1,000 tested per month in 2019 to 17.6 tests in March 2020, 6.1 in April and 11.3 in May. Prostate biopsies were performed at a similar rate over the first five months of 2019 and 2020.[1]

Consistent with a decrease and delay in screening and thus diagnosis of prostate cancer, by October 2020, most COMPPARE partner sites had experienced drops in referrals and delays in beginning radiation treatment. Many sites were required to halt all research efforts entirely. In fact, 76% of COMPPARE sites reported a 20% to 95% reduction in referrals, and 44% saw a four- to six-month postponement of radiation therapy for consulted prostate cancer patients.

Through our Engagement efforts, we continue to remind everyone that men between the ages of 55 and 69 – especially African-American men or those with a strong family history of prostate cancer – should consider scheduling a prostate screening that includes both a PSA blood test and prostate examination. It is imperative that you have these discussions with your brothers, fathers, sons, and friends.

We are hopeful and expectant that in the coming months, as vaccines are rolled out across the country and patients get back to annual prostate screenings at the pre-COVID rate, our accrual rate will ramp back up from its COVID slowdown so that accrual will be completed as quickly as feasible. I am so appreciative of the dedication displayed by the COMPPARE Administration Team, the research teams at all 51 participating sites, our Patient Stakeholder and Minority Engagement Groups, and most of all our COMPPARE enrollees, all working hard to conduct research that will improve the ability of future patients to make informed decisions based on knowledge of the comparative outcomes of conventional radiation and proton therapy in prostate cancer.

To learn more about the COMPPARE study, visit https://comppare.org/about/study-details/.

In good health,

Nancy Mendenhall, MD

COMPPARE Principal Investigator


[1] McLaughlin K. The Pandemic’s Impact on Cancer Screening and Detection. Cancer Today. July 28, 2020. https://www.cancertodaymag.org/Pages/cancer-talk/The-Pandemics-Impact-on-Cancer-Screening-and-Detection.aspx