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JCO Clin Cancer Inform. 2020 Mar;4:171-183. doi: 10.1200/CCI.19.00107.

Treatment Patterns for Chronic Comorbid Conditions in Patients With Cancer Using a Large-Scale Observational Data Network.

Author information

Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics, New York, NY.
Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY.
Epidemiology Analytics, Janssen Research and Development, Titusville, NJ.
Department of Medicine and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY.
IQVIA, Cambridge, MA.
Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.
Health Systems and Interventions Research Branch, Healthcare Delivery Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.
Medical Informatics Services, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY.



Patients with cancer are predisposed to developing chronic, comorbid conditions that affect prognosis, quality of life, and mortality. While treatment guidelines and care variations for these comorbidities have been described for the general noncancer population, less is known about real-world treatment patterns in patients with cancer. We sought to characterize the prevalence and distribution of initial treatment patterns across a large-scale data network for depression, hypertension, and type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) among patients with cancer.


We used the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics network, an international collaborative implementing the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership Common Data Model to standardize more than 2 billion patient records. For this study, we used 8 databases across 3 countries-the United States, France, and Germany-with 295,529,655 patient records. We identified patients with cancer using SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) codes validated via manual review. We then characterized the treatment patterns of these patients initiating treatment of depression, hypertension, or T2DM with persistent treatment and at least 365 days of observation.


Across databases, wide variations exist in treatment patterns for depression (n = 1,145,510), hypertension (n = 3,178,944), and T2DM (n = 886,766). When limited to 6-node (6-drug) sequences, we identified 61,052 unique sequences for depression, 346,067 sequences for hypertension, and 40,629 sequences for T2DM. These variations persisted across sites, databases, countries, and conditions, with the exception of metformin (73.8%) being the most common initial T2DM treatment. The most common initial medications were sertraline (17.5%) and escitalopram (17.5%) for depression and hydrochlorothiazide (20.5%) and lisinopril (19.6%) for hypertension.


We identified wide variations in the treatment of common comorbidities in patients with cancer, similar to the general population, and demonstrate the feasibility of conducting research on patients with cancer across a large-scale observational data network using a common data model.

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