A Message from Dr. Nancy Mendenhall

Dr. Nancy MendenhallDear COMPPARE team, participants, stakeholders and friends,

I am pleased to provide you with an update on the COMPPARE study for the summer edition of the COMPPARE Connection newsletter, as we continue work together to help future prostate cancer patients make informed treatment decisions.

We aspired this spring to meet milestones set by PCORI for full site activation by May 1, 2020 and 25% accrual by June 1, 2020.  With an increasing number of activated sites, our accrual rate rose rapidly, and we peaked at a rate of 25 enrollees per week the last week in February.  We were solidly on track to meet both milestones.

However, the effects of COVID hit suddenly in early March.  Our weekly COMPPARE accrual rate fell rapidly to approximately 10 per week as many sites reported that their institutions closed down all research activities.  Others were allowed to follow patients already enrolled on COMPPARE, but not allowed to enroll new COMPPARE patients. Almost all sites observed a significant decrease in the referral of prostate cancer patients for radiation therapy due to delays in prostate biopsies, as most non-emergent surgery was postponed.

These decreases were reflected in a survey conducted April 16-30, 2020 by the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), our national radiation oncology organization, which found that across the country radiation oncology programs experienced a 30% reduction in referrals.*  Essentially all COMPPARE sites postponed beginning radiation therapy for many new prostate cancer patients to allow the predicted COVID surge to pass and safety strategies to be developed.  In light of this, PCORI graciously agreed to negotiate revised accrual milestones at the end of summer when we hope for a return to normal clinical and research practices and more predictability in study accrual.

Currently, 44 COMPPARE sites have been activated across the country and we have accrued 594 patients, 20% of the overall study population of 3000.  We have worked with national organizations to develop procedures for continuing to treat patients with prostate cancer and other malignancies safely.  In addition, we are collaborating with our sites to strengthen their recruitment processes so that, when possible, study accrual can be maximized.  We look forward to resuming engagement activities at each site to make sure that all eligible prostate cancer patients are offered an opportunity to participate.

Please check out the website to see a full list and map of activated sites and ongoing engagement activities.  Thank you for your participation as a stakeholder, a study participant, or a researcher in this important study, which will help future prostate cancer patients and physicians decide between these two types of radiation.

Best wishes,

Nancy Mendenhall, MD

COMPPARE Principal Investigator


*The ASCO Post. ASTRO Survey Finds Fewer Patients Visiting Radiation Oncology Clinics, Despite Enhanced COVID-19 Safety Measures. URL: https://www.ascopost.com/news/may-2020/astro-survey-finds-fewer-patients-visiting-radiation-oncology-clinics-despite-enhanced-covid-19-safety-measures/. Last Updated: 5/27/2020.

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