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Prostate Cancer Outpatient Visits Declined During COVID-19 Pandemic, New Studies Find
[September 14, 2021]

Prostate Cancer Outpatient Visits Declined During COVID-19 Pandemic, New Studies Find


Prostate cancer patients received outpatient care much less frequently during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic as outpatient urology visits declined more than 40 percent during March 2020 and April 2020, according to two studies from a research collaboration between Verana Health and the American Urological Association (AUA).

Urology outpatient visits declined more than 40 percent during the spring of 2020 across all patient groups, but more so for low-risk patients than for high-risk patients. Whether this decline in outpatient care will affect longer-term outcomes is unknown, but the report recommends this question be researched closely in the future.

Research findings from two studies were presented as part of the AUA's annual meeting, which was held virtually Sept. 10-13. This research was a collaboration between AUA and Verana Health, a healthcare technology and analytics innovator focused on transforming multi-specialty clinical data into real-world evidence.

"While a decline in the number of outpatient visits during the initial phases of a global pandemic is not surprising, it's important to have real-world data on the size and magnitude of the observed decline and to know which patient groups were affected most," said Matthew Roe, MD, MHS, Chief Medical Officer at Verana Health. "These data will be invaluable for Urologists by informing their care decisions for patients as the pandemic continues to unfold."

One study presented examined the overall changes in urologic care delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lead author Daniel Lee, MD, MS, assistant professor of urology in surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Presbyterian Medical Center of Philadelphia, found large initial declines in outpatient visits and surgical procedures tracking closely with the initial spread of pandemic in the U.S. Starting in March and April 2020, the number of outpatient urology visits began to fall sharply. The visit volume recovered somewhat after several months, but a secondary decline, which worsened during the pandemic surge in the fall of 2020, resulted in lower visit volume across all patient risk categories by year's end. Dr. Lee's research is also available in a recently published manuscript in the Journal of Urology.



Findings of a second study were also presented by lead author Matt Cooperberg, MD, MPH, professor of urology and epidemiology & biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Cooperberg's research showed that the COVID-19 pandemic sharply curtailed access to outpatient care for men with prostate cancer in the United States. An initial decline in visits for early-stage prostate cancer patients started in March 2020, followed by a recovery in visit volumes over several months. A secondary decline in visits related to the pandemic surge in the fall of 2020 affected all prostate cancer patient risk categories by the end of the year.

Both studies used data from the AUA Quality Registry (AQUA), a national Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) that measures, reports, and improves healthcare quality and patient outcomes. A total of 158 U.S. urology practices contributed electronic health record data for this study. Researchers looked at visits for prostate cancer, use of diagnostic procedures such as prostate biopsies, and prostate cancer treatments, including surgical prostatectomy and radiation administration across different patient risk categories.


"For urologists and genitourinary cancer patients, early detection and treatment are critical to successful outcomes," said David F. Penson, MD, MPH, AUA Science and Quality Council Chair. "Thanks to our collaboration with Verana Health, we now have a better understanding about changes in care due to the COVID-19 pandemic that we can study to gauge the long-term impact of delayed diagnoses and treatments for prostate cancer."

"The data on early-stage genitourinary cancers in the AQUA Registry are invaluable to researchers and clinicians," said Verana Health's Dr. Roe, a co-author of both studies. "By partnering with AUA to apply our data curation and analytics capabilities to the AQUA Registry data, Verana Health is helping the organization fulfill its mission of improving care for patients with urological disorders."

The AUA promotes the highest standards of urological clinical care through research like the partnership with Verana Health. Continued research through the AQUA Registry will also result in further insights into the effectiveness of treatments for early-stage genitourinary cancers.

For more information, view the study abstracts here and here.

About Verana Health

Verana Health is a healthcare technology and analytics company entrusted by key medical associations to manage multi-specialty, real-world data at every stage of the analytics process-from entry to evidence. Anchored in ophthalmology, neurology, and urology, the Company acts as a linchpin in the healthcare data ecosystem, making data meaningful and actionable to empower physicians and accelerate research for patients. By curating and applying advanced analytics to real-world clinical data, Verana Health helps life sciences partners enhance evidence generation, reinvent medical research, and drive innovations in specific disease areas. For more information on Verana Health, visit www.veranahealth.com.

About the American Urological Association

Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association (AUA) is a leading advocate for the specialty of urology and has nearly 23,000 members throughout the world. The AUA is a premier urologic association, providing invaluable support to the urologic community as it pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care through education, research and the formulation of health policy. For more information on AUA, visit https://www.auanet.org.


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