Study: 83% of Oncologists Believe Real-World Data Is Critical to Accelerating Cancer Research and Treatment

Majority of providers also believe all cancer clinical trials should include real-world data to ensure diverse representation in treatments.

COTA announced insights from a study of practicing oncologists that found 83 percent of oncologists surveyed believe real-world data is critical to accelerating the development of potentially life-saving cancer drugs and treatments.

The study of 200 practicing oncologists in the United States also found that oncologists believe it is important for all clinical trials to include a real-world data component, and the overwhelming majority (78 percent) would urge pharmaceutical companies and cancer research groups to use real-world data in all clinical trials as well. Additionally, 71 percent stated that they believe real-world data, when used as an external control arm, can make a clinical trial more efficient and representative.

The findings from this study reinforce the need and hope — by providers and patients — that innovation specific to cancer care and treatment can be fast-tracked moving forward. This growing expectation is a result of lessons learned from the recent expedited development of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the fact that cancer continues to be the second leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 608,570 deaths in 2021 alone. 

The study also highlighted a few particular areas where oncologists’ perceptions differed from that of patients’ and from industry realities, including: 

The Pressing Need for More Diversity in Cancer Clinical Trials

While it’s well-documented that clinical trials often do not include representative samples of diverse populations, COTA’s study found that 70 percent of oncologists believe patient populations enrolled in clinical trials for cancer research are representatively diverse.

A Growing Patient Expectation for Better Cancer Treatments, Faster

Unlike cancer patients, or those with cancer patients in their immediate household, who are frustrated with the slow pace of cancer treatment innovation, 64 percent of oncologists stated they are satisfied with the pace of typical cancer treatment clinical trials. However, a surprising 71 percent recognize that patient expectations for more speedy development of new cancer treatments have increased because of the perceived speed of COVID-19 vaccine development.

An Opportunity for Engagement and Education Between Provider and Cancer Patient

While this study found that a majority of oncologists characterized their patients as enthusiastic to participate in clinical trials (58 percent) and willing to share their health data (92 percent), a prior consumer study indicated that many oncologists may not be discussing clinical trial participation and data-sharing with researchers. According to this consumer study, while 86 percent of respondents believe oncologists should be actively discussing the value of sharing data with researchers as part of patient interactions, less than half reported that their oncologist actually discussed just that.

“The pandemic highlighted the vital benefit real-world data can have when it comes to ensuring the efficacy and safety of swiftly developed vaccines aimed at decreasing the impact of COVID-19,” said C.K. Wang, MD, Chief Medical Officer at COTA, Inc. “It is not surprising that providers and patients now want to see the same turnaround time for cancer drugs and treatments. Real-world data is one solution to this challenge of speeding cancer-specific innovation.”

Today, oncology real-world data is typically collected from the electronic health records of cancer patients. This data is then anonymized for research-related use. Companies like COTA are taking a unique approach to ensure they are offering the highest quality oncology real-world data by collaborating specifically with leading academic and community-based cancer institutes. COTA also uses a proprietary, technology-supported human data abstraction method. Their approach ensures more diverse patient representation in comparison to current clinical trial processes — while also simplifying the utilization of this complex, fragmented patient data from the real world for both providers and pharmaceutical companies.

“The quality and breadth of oncology real-world data has increased significantly over the last five years,” said Paul Barr, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Clinical Trials Office for the Wilmot Cancer Institute. “Now, more and more leading cancer institutes — including my own — and pharma companies are looking to external control arms, which are grounded in real-world data, to bring trusted cancer therapies to patients faster — while also improving the diversity of representation in those trials. More regulatory guidance is still needed to ensure broad-based adoption, but those efforts are already in-progress.”

To date, providers and pharmaceutical companies have looked to regulators for guidance on real-world data. The Food and Drug Administration has already taken action and is playing a proactive role in exploring the current and future applications of real-world data, including the most recent draft guidance on the use of real-world data in drug development. Still, more guidance is needed to broaden adoption and acceptance of real-world data.

The survey was conducted by PureSpectrum, an independent market research platform that gathers insights via online, nonprobability samples collected from panels in the PureSpectrum Marketplace. For more information on PureSpectrum’s methodology, visit purespectrum.com.