A Method for Matching Patients to Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials

Amol Wagholikar, Anthony Nguyen, Maggie Fung


Objective: To illustrate a new method for simplifying patient recruitment for advanced prostate cancer clinical trials using natural language processing techniques. Background: The identification of eligible participants for clinical trials is a critical factor to increase patient recruitment rates and an important issue for discovery of new treatment interventions. The current practice of identifying eligible participants is highly constrained due to manual processing of disparate sources of unstructured patient data. Informatics-based approaches can simplify the complex task of evaluating patient’s eligibility for clinical trials. We show that an ontology-based approach can address the challenge of matching patients to suitable clinical trials. Methods: The free-text descriptions of clinical trial criteria as well as patient data were analysed. A set of common inclusion and exclusion criteria was identified through consultations with expert clinical trial coordinators. A research prototype was developed using Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) that identified SNOMED CT concepts in the patient data and clinical trial description. The SNOMED CT concepts model the standard clinical terminology that can be used to represent and evaluate patient’s inclusion/exclusion criteria for the clinical trial. Results: Our experimental research prototype describes a semi-automated method for filtering patient records using common clinical trial criteria. Our method simplified the patient recruitment process. The discussion with clinical trial coordinators showed that the efficiency in patient recruitment process measured in terms of information processing time could be improved by 25%. Conclusion: An UIMA-based approach can resolve complexities in patient recruitment for advanced prostate cancer clinical trials.


Clinical Trials; MetaMap; Natural Language Processing; UIMA

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