Danil Makarov
Assistant Professor of Health Policy (NYU School of Medicine)

Dr. Makarov specializes in the treatment of prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as well as bladder and kidney cancer. He has first-hand experience in the surgical and medical treatment of prostate cancer. In addition to his clinical expertise in urological oncology, Dr. Makarov is a highly regarded health services researcher. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from Yale University and his medical degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed a surgical internship in the William S. Halsted Department of Surgery and a residency in urology at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute (both at Johns Hopkins). After completing his residency, Dr. Makarov continued on the faculty at Johns Hopkins as an Instructor in Urology. After this experience, Dr. Makarov completed a Masters in Health Sciences Research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Makarov joined NYU Urology Associates in 2010.

The goal of Dr. Makarov's research is to improve the quality and efficiency of care administered to men with prostate cancer in the United States. His research interests focus on the use of tissue and serum biomarkers for the risk stratification of men with prostate cancer (especially those with low-volume, low-grade disease) as well as policy-relevant questions impacting the provision of cost-effective, high-quality care for patients with prostate cancer. He is an Assistant Professor of Urology at the NYU School of Medicine as well as Assistant Professor of Health Policy at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. Cognizant that many of the problems in the US healthcare system derive more from the inefficient delivery of care rather than a lack of available science, Dr. Makarov is interested in examining regional variation in utilization, appropriateness, and cost among problematic healthcare systems. In the future, Dr. Makarov hopes to leverage the understanding gained from studying such systems as multiple natural experiments in order to design large scale interventions to improve care.


Date Publication/Paper

Sivarajan, G., G.B. Taksler, D. Walter, C.P. Gross, R.E. Sosa,and D.V. Makarov 2015. The Effect of the Diffusion of the Surgical Robot on the Hospital-level Utilization of Partial Nephrectomy Medical Care, Vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 71-78. DOI: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000259
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Introduction: The rapid diffusion of the surgical robot has been controversial because of the technology’s high costs and its disputed marginal benefit. Some, however, have suggested that adoption of the robot may have improved care for patients with renal malignancy by facilitating partial nephrectomy, an underutilized, technically challenging procedure believed to be less morbid than radical nephrectomy. We sought to determine whether institutional acquisition of the robot was associated with increased utilization of partial nephrectomy.

Methods: We used all payer data from 7 states to identify 21,569 nephrectomies. These patient-level records were aggregated to the hospital-level then merged with the American Hospital Association Annual Survey and publicly available data on timing of robot acquisition. We used a multivariable difference-in-difference model to assess at the hospital-level whether robot acquisition was associated with an increase in the proportion of partial nephrectomy, adjusting for hospital nephrectomy volume, year of surgery, and several additional hospital-level factors.

Results: In the multivariable-adjusted differences-in-differences model, hospitals acquiring a robot between 2001 and 2004 performed a greater proportion of partial nephrectomy in both 2005 (29.9% increase) and 2008 (34.9% increase). Hospitals acquiring a robot between 2005 and 2008 also demonstrated a greater proportion of partial nephrectomy in 2008 (15.5% increase). In addition, hospital nephrectomy volume and urban location were also significantly associated with increased proportion of partial nephrectomy.

Conclusions: Hospital acquisition of the surgical robot is associated with greater proportion of partial nephrectomy, an underutilized, guideline-encouraged procedure. This is one of the few studies to suggest robot acquisition is associated with improvement in quality of patient care.


Li, H., M.H. Gail, B.R. Scott, H.T. Gold, D. Walter, D, M. Liu, C.P. Gross, and D.V. Makarov 2014. Are hospitals “keeping up with the Joneses”?: Assessing the spatial and temporal diffusion of the surgical robot Healthcare : the Journal of Delivery Science & Innovation, Vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 152-157. DOI: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2013.10.002
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Background: The surgical robot has been widely adopted in the United States in spite of its high cost and controversy surrounding its benefit. Some have suggested that a “medical arms race” influences technology adoption. We wanted to determine whether a hospital would acquire a surgical robot if its nearest neighboring hospital already owned one.

Methods: We identified 554 hospitals performing radical prostatectomy from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statewide Inpatient Databases for seven states. We used publicly available data from the website of the surgical robot's sole manufacturer (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA) combined with data collected from the hospitals to ascertain the timing of robot acquisition during year 2001 to 2008. One hundred thirty four hospitals (24%) had acquired a surgical robot by the end of 2008. We geocoded the address of each hospital and determined a hospital's likelihood to acquire a surgical robot based on whether its nearest neighbor owned a surgical robot. We developed a Markov chain method to model the acquisition process spatially and temporally and quantified the “neighborhood effect” on the acquisition of the surgical robot while adjusting simultaneously for known confounders.

Results: After adjusting for hospital teaching status, surgical volume, urban status and number of hospital beds, the Markov chain analysis demonstrated that a hospital whose nearest neighbor had acquired a surgical robot had a higher likelihood itself acquiring a surgical robot (OR=1.71, 95% CI: 1.07–2.72, p=0.02).

Conclusion: There is a significant spatial and temporal association for hospitals acquiring surgical robots during the study period. Hospitals were more likely to acquire a surgical robot during the robot's early adoption phase if their nearest neighbor had already done so.

Batouli, A., P. Jahanshahi, C.P. Gross, D.V. Makarov, and J.B.Yu 2014. The global cancer divide: relationships between national healthcare resources and cancer outcomes in high-income vs. middle- and low-income countries Journal of Epidemiology & Global Health, Vol 4, no. 2, pp. 115-124. DOI: 10.1016/j.jegh.2013.10.004
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Background: Cancer continues to rise as a contributor to premature death in the developing world. Despite this, little is known about whether cancer outcomes are related to a country’s income level, and what aspects of national healthcare systems are associated with improved cancer outcomes.

Methods: The most recent estimates of cancer incidence and mortality were used to calculate mortality-to-incidence ratio (MIR) for the 85 countries with reliable data. Countries were categorized according to high-income (Gross Domestic Product (GDP) > $15,000) or middle/low-income (GDP < $15,000), and a multivariate linear regression model was used to determine the association between healthcare system indicators and cancer MIR. Indicators study included per capita GDP, overall total healthcare expenditure (THE), THE as a proportion of GDP, total external beam radiotherapy devices (TEBD) per capita, physician density, and the year 2000 WHO healthcare system rankings.

Results: Cancer MIR in high-income countries (0.47) was significantly lower than that of middle/low-income countries (0.64), with a p < 0.001. In high-income countries, GDP, health expenditure and TEBD showed significant inverse correlations with overall cancer MIR. A $3040 increase in GDP (p = 0.004), a $379 increase in THE (p < 0.001), or an increase of 0.59 TEBD per 100,000 population (p = 0.027) were all associated with a 0.01 decrease in cancer MIR. In middle/low-income countries, only WHO scores correlated with decreased cancer MIR (p = 0.022); 12 specific cancer types also showed similar significant correlations (p < 0.05) as overall cancer MIR.

Conclusions: The analysis of this study suggested that cancer MIR is greater in middle/low-income countries. Furthermore, the WHO healthcare score was associated with improved cancer outcomes in middle/low-income countries while absolute levels of financial resources and infrastructure played a more important role in high-income countries.

McClintock, T.R., Y. Chen, F. Parvez, D.V. Makarov, W. Ge, T. Islam, A. Ahmed, M. Rakibuz-Zaman, R. Hasan, G. Sarwar, V. Slavkovich, M.A. Bjurlin, J.H. Graziano, and H. Ahsan 2014. Association between Arsenic Exposure from Drinking Water and Hematuria: Results from the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study Toxicology & Applied Pharmacology, Vol. 276, no. 1, pp 21-27. DOI: 10.1016/j.taap.2014.01.015
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Arsenic (As) exposure has been associated with both urologic malignancy and renal dysfunction; however, its association with hematuria is unknown. We evaluated the association between drinking water As exposure and hematuria in 7843 men enrolled in the Health Effects of Arsenic Longitudinal Study (HEALS). Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data was conducted with As exposure assessed in both well water and urinary As measurements, while hematuria was measured using urine dipstick. Prospective analyses with Cox proportional regression models were based on urinary As and dipstick measurements obtained biannually since baseline up to six years. At baseline, urinary As was significantly related to prevalence of hematuria (P-trend < 0.01), with increasing quintiles of exposure corresponding with respective prevalence odds ratios of 1.00 (reference), 1.29 (95% CI: 1.04–1.59), 1.41 (95% CI: 1.15–1.74), 1.46 (95% CI: 1.19–1.79), and 1.56 (95% CI: 1.27–1.91). Compared to those with relatively little absolute urinary As change during follow-up (− 10.40 to 41.17 μg/l), hazard ratios for hematuria were 0.99 (95% CI: 0.80–1.22) and 0.80 (95% CI: 0.65–0.99) for those whose urinary As decreased by > 47.49 μg/l and 10.87 to 47.49 μg/l since last visit, respectively, and 1.17 (95% CI: 0.94–1.45) and 1.36 (95% CI: 1.10–1.66) for those with between-visit increases of 10.40 to 41.17 μg/l and > 41.17 μg/l, respectively. These data indicate a positive association of As exposure with both prevalence and incidence of dipstick hematuria. This exposure effect appears modifiable by relatively short-term changes in drinking water As.

Prabhu, V., T. Lee, S. Loeb, J.H. Holmes, H.T. Gold, H. Lepor, D.F. Penson, and D.V. Makarov 2014. Twitter Response to the United States Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations against Screening with Prostate Specific Antigen BJU International. DOI: 10.1111/bju.12748
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Objective: To examine public and media response to the United States Preventive Services Task Force's (USPSTF) draft (October 2011) and finalized (May 2012) recommendations against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing using Twitter, a popular social network with over 200 million active users.

Materials and Methods: We used a mixed methods design to analyze posts on Twitter, called “tweets.” Using the search term “prostate cancer,” we archived tweets in the 24 hour periods following the release of the USPSTF draft and finalized recommendations. We recorded tweet rate per hour and developed a coding system to assess type of user and sentiment expressed in tweets and linked articles.

Results: After the draft and finalized recommendations, 2042 and 5357 tweets focused on the USPSTF report, respectively. Tweet rate nearly doubled within two hours of both announcements. Fewer than 10% of tweets expressed an opinion about screening, and the majority of these were pro-screening during both periods. In contrast, anti-screening articles were tweeted more frequently in both draft and finalized study periods. From the draft to the finalized recommendations, the proportion of anti-screening tweets and anti-screening article links increased (p= 0.03 and p<0.01, respectively).

Conclusions: There was increased Twitter activity surrounding the USPSTF draft and finalized recommendations. The percentage of anti-screening tweets and articles appeared to increase, perhaps due to the interval public comment period. Despite this, most tweets did not express an opinion, suggesting a missed opportunity in this important arena for advocacy.

Prabhu, V., G.B. Taksler, G. Sivarajan, J. Laze, D.V. Makarov, and H. Lepor 2014. Radical Prostatectomy Improves and Prevents Age Dependent Progression of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Journal of Urology. Vol. 191, no. 2, pp. 412-417. DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2013.08.010
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Purpose: The prevalence of lower urinary tract symptoms increases with age and impairs quality of life. Radical prostatectomy has been shown to relieve lower urinary tract symptoms at short-term followup but the long-term effect of radical prostatectomy on lower urinary tract symptoms is unclear.

Materials and Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of 1,788 men undergoing radical prostatectomy. The progression of scores from the self-administered AUASS (American Urological Association symptom score) preoperatively, and at 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 60, 84, 96 and 120 months was analyzed using models controlling for preoperative AUASS, age, prostate specific antigen, pathological Gleason score and stage, nerve sparing, race and marital status. This model was also applied to patients stratified by baseline clinically significant (AUASS greater than 7) and insignificant (AUASS 7 or less) lower urinary tract symptoms.

Results: Men exhibited an immediate worsening of lower urinary tract symptoms that improved between 3 months and 2 years after radical prostatectomy. Overall the difference between mean AUASS at baseline and at 10 years was not statistically or clinically significant. Men with baseline clinically significant lower urinary tract symptoms experienced immediate improvements in lower urinary tract symptoms that lasted until 10 years after radical prostatectomy (13.5 vs 8.81, p <0.001). Men with baseline clinically insignificant lower urinary tract symptoms experienced a statistically significant but clinically insignificant increase in mean AUASS after 10 years (3.09 to 4.94, p <0.001). The percentage of men with clinically significant lower urinary tract symptoms decreased from baseline to 10 years after radical prostatectomy (p = 0.02).

Conclusions​: Radical prostatectomy is the only treatment for prostate cancer shown to improve and prevent the development of lower urinary tract symptoms at long-term followup. This previously unrecognized long-term benefit argues in favor of the prostate as the primary contributor to male lower urinary tract symptoms.

Ma, X., R. Wang, J.B. Long, J.S. Ross, P.R. Soulos, J.B. Yu, D.V. Makarov, H.T. Gold, and C.P. Gross 2014. The Cost Implications of Prostate Cancer Screening in the Medicare Population Cancer, Vol. 120, no. 1, pp. 96-102. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.28373
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Background: Recent debate about prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based testing for prostate cancer screening among older men has rarely considered the cost of screening.

Methods: A population-based cohort of male Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 to 99 years, who had never been diagnosed with prostate cancer at the end of 2006 (n = 94,652), was assembled, and they were followed for 3 years to assess the cost of PSA screening and downstream procedures (biopsy, pathologic analysis, and hospitalization due to biopsy complications) at both the national and the hospital referral region (HRR) level.

Results: Approximately 51.2% of men received PSA screening tests during the 3-year period, with 2.9% undergoing biopsy. The annual expenditures on prostate cancer screening by the national fee-for-service Medicare program were $447 million in 2009 US dollars. The mean annual screening cost at the HRR level ranged from $17 to $62 per beneficiary. Downstream biopsy-related procedures accounted for 72% of the overall screening costs and varied significantly across regions. Compared with men residing in HRRs that were in the lowest quartile for screening expenditures, men living in the highest HRR quartile were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer of any stage (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07-1.35) and localized cancer (IRR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.15-1.47). The IRR for regional/metastasized cancer was also elevated, although not statistically significant (IRR = 1.31, 95% CI = 0.81-2.11).

Conclusions: Medicare prostate cancer screening–related expenditures are substantial, vary considerably across regions, and are positively associated with rates of cancer diagnosis.


Bjurlin, M.A. D. Walter, G.B. Taksler, W.C. Huang, J.S. Wysock, G. Sivarajan, S. Loeb, S.S. Taneja, and D.V. Makarov 2013. National Trends in the Utilization of Partial Nephrectomy Before and After the Establishment of AUA Guidelines for the Management of Renal Masses Urology, Vol. 82, no. 6, pp. 1283-1290. DOI: 10.1016/j.urology.2013.07.068
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Objective To assess the impact of the American Urological Association (AUA) guidelines advocating partial nephrectomy for T1 tumors guidelines on the likelihood of undergoing partial nephrectomy.

Materials and Methods We analyzed the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), a dataset encompassing 20% of all United States inpatient hospitalizations, from 2007 through 2010. Our dependent variable was receipt of radical vs partial nephrectomy (55.50, 55.51, 55.52, and 55.54 vs 55.4) for a renal mass (International Classification of Disease, 9th Revision [ICD-9] code 189.0). The independent variable of interest was time of surgery (before or after the establishment of AUA guidelines); covariates included a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD), overall comorbidity, age, race, gender, geographic region, income, and hospital characteristics. Bivariate and multivariable adjusted logistic regression was used to determine the association between receipt of partial nephrectomy and time of guideline establishment.

Results We identified 26,165 patients with renal tumors who underwent surgery. Before the guidelines, 4031 patients (27%) underwent partial nephrectomy compared to 3559 (32%) after. On multivariable analysis, undergoing surgery after the establishment of guidelines (odds ratio [OR] 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08-1.32, P <.01) was an independent predictor of partial nephrectomy. Other factors associated with partial nephrectomy were urban location, surgery at a teaching hospital, large hospital bed size, Northeast location, and Black race. Female gender and CKD were not associated with partial nephrectomy.

Conclusion Although adoption of partial nephrectomy increased after establishment of new guidelines on renal masses, partial nephrectomy remains an underutilized procedure. Future research must focus on barriers to adoption of partial nephrectomy and how to overcome them.

Makarov, D.V., S. Loeb, D. Ulmert, L. Drevin, M. Lambe, and P. Stattin 2013. Prostate Cancer Imaging Trends After a Nationwide Effort to Discourage Inappropriate Prostate Cancer Imaging Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 105, no. 17, pp. 1306-1313. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djt175
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Background: Reducing inappropriate use of imaging to stage incident prostate cancer is a challenging problem highlighted recently as a Physician Quality Reporting System quality measure and by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Urological Association in the Choosing Wisely campaign. Since 2000, the National Prostate Cancer Register (NPCR) of Sweden has led an effort to decrease national rates of inappropriate prostate cancer imaging by disseminating utilization data along with the latest imaging guidelines to urologists in Sweden. We sought to determine the temporal and regional effects of this effort on prostate cancer imaging rates.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study among men diagnosed with prostate cancer from the NPCR from 1998 to 2009 (n = 99 879). We analyzed imaging use over time stratified by clinical risk category (low, intermediate, high) and geographic region. Generalized linear models with a logit link were used to test for time trend.

Results: Thirty-six percent of men underwent imaging within 6 months of prostate cancer diagnosis. Overall, imaging use decreased over time, particularly in the low-risk category, among whom the imaging rate decreased from 45% to 3% (P < .001), but also in the high-risk category, among whom the rate decreased from 63% to 47% (P < .001). Despite substantial regional variation, all regions experienced clinically and statistically (P < .001) significant decreases in prostate cancer imaging.

Conclusions: A Swedish effort to provide data on prostate cancer imaging use and imaging guidelines to clinicians was associated with a reduction in inappropriate imaging over a 10-year period, as well as slightly decreased appropriate imaging in high-risk patients. These results may inform current efforts to promote guideline-concordant imaging in the United States and internationally.

Borofsky, M.S., D. Walter,O. Shah, D.S. Goldfarb, A.C. Mues, and D.V. Makarov 2013. Surgical Decompression is Associated with Decreased Mortality in Patients with Sepsis and Ureteral Calculi Journal of Urology, Vol. 189, no. 3, pp. 946-951. DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.09.088
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Purpose: The combination of sepsis and ureteral calculus is a urological emergency. Traditional teaching advocates urgent decompression with nephrostomy tube or ureteral stent placement, although published outcomes validating this treatment are lacking. National practice patterns for such scenarios are currently undefined. Using a retrospective study design, we defined the surgical decompression rate in patients admitted to the hospital with severe infection and ureteral calculi. We determined whether a mortality benefit is associated with this intervention.

Materials and Methods: Patient demographics and hospital characteristics were extracted from the 2007 to 2009 Nationwide Inpatient Sample. We identified 1,712 patients with ureteral calculi and sepsis. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to determine the association between mortality and surgical decompression.

Results: Of the patients 78% underwent surgical decompression. Mortality was higher in those not treated with surgical decompression (19.2% vs 8.82%, p <0.001). Lack of surgical decompression was independently associated with an increased OR of mortality even when adjusting for patient demographics, comorbidities and geographic region of treatment (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.9–3.7).

Conclusions: Absent surgical decompression is associated with higher odds of mortality in patients with sepsis and ureteral calculi. Further research to determine predictors of surgical decompression is necessary to ensure that all patients have access to this life saving therapy.

Anderson, C.B., D.F. Penson, S. Ni, D.V. Makarov, and D.A. Barocas 2013. Centralization of Radical Prostatectomy in the United States Journal of Urology, Vol. 189, no. 2, pp. 500-506. DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.10.012
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Purpose: Radical prostatectomy is a common treatment for organ confined prostate cancer and its use is increasing. We examined how the increased volume is being distributed and what hospital characteristics are associated with increasing volume.

Materials and Methods: We identified all men age 40 to less than 80 years who underwent radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer from 2000 to 2008 in the NIS (Nationwide Inpatient Sample) (586,429). Ownership of a surgical robot was determined using the 2007 AHA (American Hospital Association) Annual Survey. The association between hospital radical prostatectomy volume and hospital characteristics, including ownership of a robot, was explored using multivariate linear regression.

Results: From 2000 to 2008 there was a 74% increase in the number of radical prostatectomies performed (p = 0.05) along with a 19% decrease in the number of hospitals performing radical prostatectomy (p <0.001), resulting in an increase in annual hospital radical prostatectomy volume (p = 0.009). Several hospital variables were associated with greater radical prostatectomy volume including teaching status, urban location, large bed size and ownership of a robot in 2007. On multivariate analysis the year, teaching status, large bed size, urban location and presence of a robot were associated with higher hospital radical prostatectomy volume.

Conclusions: Use of radical prostatectomy increased significantly between 2000 and 2008, most notably after 2005. The increase in radical prostatectomy resulted in centralization to select hospitals, particularly those in the top radical prostatectomy volume quartile and those investing in robotic technology. Our findings support the hypothesis that hospitals with the greatest volume increases are specialty centers already performing a high volume of radical prostatectomy procedures.

Prabhu, V., J.P. Alukal, J. Laze, D.V. Makarov, and H. Lepor 2013. Long-Term Satisfaction and Predictors of Use of Intracorporeal Injections for Post-Prostatectomy Erectile Dysfunction Journal of Urology, Vol. 189, no. 1, pp. 238-242. DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.08.089
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Purpose: Intracorporeal injections have low use rates and high discontinuation rates. We examined factors associated with intracorporeal injection use, long-term satisfaction with intracorporeal injection and reasons for discontinuation in men treated with radical prostatectomy.

Materials and Methods: Between October 2000 and September 2003, 731 men who underwent open radical retropubic prostatectomy were enrolled in a prospective outcomes study. The 8-year followup evaluation included the UCLA-PCI, and a survey capturing intracorporeal injection use, satisfaction and reasons for discontinuation. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between intracorporeal injection use and preoperative variables.

Results: The 8-year self-assessment was completed by 368 (50.4%) men. Of these men 140 (38%) indicated prior or current intracorporeal injection use, with only 34 using intracorporeal injection at 8 years. Overall, 44% of the men were satisfied with intracorporeal injections. Reasons for discontinuation included dislike (47%), pain (33%), return of erection (19%), inefficacy (14%) and no partner (6%). Men trying intracorporeal injections had greater preoperative UCLA-PCI sexual function scores (75.2 vs 65.62, p = 0.00005) as well as greater decreases in this score at 3 months (p = 0.0002) and 2 years (p = 0.003). Higher preoperative sexual function scores were independently associated with the use of intracorporeal injections in a model adjusted for age, marital status, nerve sparing status and body mass index (OR 1.021, 95% CI 1.008–1.035).

Conclusions: Men pursuing intracorporeal injections have better baseline erectile function and experience greater deterioration in erectile function during the early postoperative period. Despite the high efficacy of injections, many men discontinue intracorporeal injections due to dislike or discomfort. Satisfaction rates for intracorporeal injections indicate their long-term role in restoring sexual function in men with post-prostatectomy erectile dysfunction.

Presley, C.J., A.C. Raldow, L.D. Cramer, P.R. Soulos, J.B. Long, J.B. Yu, D.V. Makarov, and C.P. Gross 2013. A new approach to understanding racial disparities in prostate cancer treatment Journal of Geriatric Oncology, Vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jgo.2012.07.005
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Objective: Previous studies addressing racial disparities in treatment for early-stage prostate cancer have focused on the etiology of undertreatment of black men. Our objective was to determine whether racial disparities are attributable to undertreatment, overtreatment, or both.

Methods: Using the SEER-Medicare dataset, we identified men 67–84 years-old diagnosed with localized prostate cancer from 1998 to 2007. We stratified men into clinical benefit groups using tumor aggressiveness and life expectancy. Low-benefit was defined as low-risk tumors and life expectancy < 10 years; high-benefit as moderate-risk tumors and life expectancy ≥ 10 years; all others were intermediate-benefit. Logistic regression modeled the association between race and treatment (radical prostatectomy or radiotherapy) across benefit groups.

Results: Of 68,817 men (9.8% black and 90.2% white), 56.2% of black and 66.3% of white men received treatment (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.65; 95% CI, 0.62–0.69). The percent of low-, intermediate-, and high-benefit men who received treatment was 56.7%, 68.4%, and 79.6%, respectively (P = < 0.001). In the low-benefit group, 51.9% of black vs. 57.2% of white patients received treatment (OR = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.67–0.81) compared to 57.2% vs. 69.6% in the intermediate-benefit group (OR = 0.64; 95% CI, 0.59–0.70). Racial disparity was largest in the high-benefit group (64.2% of black vs. 81.4% of white patients received treatment; OR = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.48–0.68). The interaction between race and clinical benefit was significant (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Racial disparities were largest among men most likely to benefit from treatment. However, a substantial proportion of both black and white men with a low clinical benefit received treatment, indicating a high level of overtreatment.


Park, H.S., C.P. Gross, D.V. Makarov, and J.B. Yu 2012. Immortal Time Bias: A Frequently Unrecognized Threat to Validity in the Evaluation of Postoperative Radiotherapy International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics., Vol. 83, no. 5, pp. 1365-1373. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.10.025
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Purpose: To evaluate the influence of immortal time bias on observational cohort studies of postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) and the effectiveness of sequential landmark analysis to account for this bias.

Methods and Materials: First, we reviewed previous studies of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database to determine how frequently this bias was considered. Second, we used SEER to select three tumor types (glioblastoma multiforme, Stage IA–IVM0 gastric adenocarcinoma, and Stage II–III rectal carcinoma) for which prospective trials demonstrated an improvement in survival associated with PORT. For each tumor type, we calculated conditional survivals and adjusted hazard ratios of PORT vs. postoperative observation cohorts while restricting the sample at sequential monthly landmarks.

Results: Sixty-two percent of previous SEER publications evaluating PORT failed to use a landmark analysis. As expected, delivery of PORT for all three tumor types was associated with improved survival, with the largest associated benefit favoring PORT when all patients were included regardless of survival. Preselecting a cohort with a longer minimum survival sequentially diminished the apparent benefit of PORT.

Conclusions: Although the majority of previous SEER articles do not correct for it, immortal time bias leads to altered estimates of PORT effectiveness, which are very sensitive to landmark selection. We suggest the routine use of sequential landmark analysis to account for this bias.

Yu, J.B. P.R. Soulos,R. Sharma, D.V. Makarov, R.H. Decker, B.D. Smith, R.A. Desai, L.D. Cramer, and C.P. Gross 2012. Patterns of Care and Outcomes Associated With Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy Versus Conventional Radiation Therapy for Older Patients With Head-and-Neck Cancer International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, Vol. 83, no. 1, e101-e107. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.11.067
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Purpose: Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) requires a high degree of expertise compared with standard radiation therapy (RT). We performed a retrospective cohort study of Medicare patients treated with IMRT compared with standard RT to assess outcomes in national practice.

Methods and Materials: Using the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)–Medicare linked database, we identified patients treated with radiation for cancer of the head and neck from 2002 to 2005. We used multivariate Cox models to determine whether the receipt of IMRT was associated with differences in survival.

Results: We identified 1613 patients, 33.7% of whom received IMRT. IMRT was not associated with differences in survival: the 3-year overall survival was 50.5% for IMRT vs. 49.6% for standard RT (p = 0.47). The 3-year cancer-specific survival was 60.0% for IMRT vs. 58.8% (p = 0.45).

Conclusion: Despite its complexity and resource intensive nature, IMRT use seems to be as safe as standard RT in national community practice, because the use of IMRT did not have an adverse impact on survival.

Makarov, D.V., R. Desai, J.B. Yu, R. Sharma, N. Abraham, P.C. Albertsen, H.M. Krumholz, D.F. Penson, and C.P. Gross 2012. Appropriate and inappropriate imaging rates for prostate cancer go hand in hand by region, as if set by thermostat Health affairs, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 730-740. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0336
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Policy makers interested in containing health care costs are targeting regional variation in utilization, including the use of advanced imaging. However, bluntly decreasing utilization among the highest-utilization regions may have negative consequences. In a cross-sectional study of prostate cancer patients from 2004 to 2005, we found that regions with lower rates of inappropriate imaging also had lower rates of appropriate imaging. Similarly, regions with higher overall imaging rates tended to have not only higher rates of inappropriate imaging, but also higher rates of appropriate imaging. In fact, men with high-risk prostate cancer were more likely to receive appropriate imaging if they resided in areas with higher rates of inappropriate imaging. This “thermostat model” of regional health care utilization suggests that poorly designed policies aimed at reducing inappropriate imaging could limit access to appropriate imaging for high-risk patients. Health care organizations need clearly defined quality metrics and supportive systems to encourage appropriate treatment for patients and to ensure that cost containment does not occur at the expense of quality.