Clinical Trials in Urological Oncology: COVID-19 and the Potential Need for a New Perspective - Beyond the Abstract

Highlighting the unprecedented impact of a global pandemic on clinical trials in urological oncology, our study, published in the World Journal of Urology,1 provides a timely analysis of the need for a new perspective in a necessarily protocol-driven arena.


Key points outlined in the article include:
  • Suspension, termination, or withdrawal of >10,000 clinical trials registered with ClinicalTrials.gov potentially resulting in a significant delay in the development pipeline of novel therapies for urological malignancies
  • Rapid development, registration, and commencement of new COVID-19 related clinical trials, now having doubled from the 1,409 reported at the time of publication, demonstrating a shift in resources away from oncological research
  • Lessons learned about the structure of clinical trials design, focusing on streamlined implementation strategies, the value of flexibility in design, and a patient centered-approach
The ability to find adaptability in clinical trial design has been necessary to continue urological oncology clinical research despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the initial rapid global spread of the virus, it has become clear that abrupt cessation of clinical research until resolution of the pandemic is not feasible. As such, innovative strategies to continue or recommence recruitment, enrolment, and monitoring in clinical trials in a safe and patient-centered manner has been critical. Telemedicine consultation, home-based monitoring, and remote pathology collection together with social distancing and personal protective equipment for an in-person consultation where essential have been incorporated to facilitate the ongoing provision of such trials.

The ability for the urological research community to adapt to the constraints placed upon them throughout COVID-19 has been a truly commendable effort. Historically at the forefront of social media in medicine, urological groups internationally were able to adapt in quick succession to provide virtual platforms for conference programs, providing a necessary platform for research dissemination and collaborative discussion.2-4 The ASCO GU Symposium, AUA Live, and the EAU Congress all provided comprehensive virtual conferences, which although lacking the usual benefits of in-person networking and vibrant discussion, have provided a new avenue for how scientific meetings may be provided in the future.

Written by: Ellen O’Connor, MD, (on behalf of all co-authors) Department of Surgery, Austin Hospital, University of Melbourne, Vic, Australia 

References:

  1. Teh, Jiasian, Ellen O’Connor, Jasamine Coles-Black, and Nathan Lawrentschuk. "Clinical trials in urological oncology: COVID-19 and the potential need for a new perspective." World journal of urology (2020): 1-3.
  2. "AUA Live - AUA Virtual Experience". 2020. Auavirtual.Org.
  3. "Urosource | Resource Centre". 2020. Urosource.Uroweb.Org.
  4. "ASCO Meetings". 2020. Meetings.Asco.Org.
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