Background — Uptake of perioperative chemotherapy for muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) has been historically poor. We describe contemporary use of neoadjuvant (NACT) and adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) as well as medical oncology (MO) referral patterns in routine practice.
Methods — Electronic treatment records were linked to the population-based Ontario Cancer Registry to identify all MIBC patients treated with cystectomy in Ontario 1994 to 2013. Physician billing records were used to identify consultation with MO. Practice patterns in the contemporary era (2009–2013) are compared with data from 1994 to 2008.
Results — A total of 5,582 patients had cystectomy for MIBC. Use of NACT increased from 4% in 1994 to 2008 to 19% in 2009 to 2013 (P<0.001); rates continued to rise in the most recent era from 12% in 2009 to 27% in 2013 (P<0.001). ACT was delivered to 20% of patients in 2009 to 2013 (19% in 1994–2008, P = 0.875). Use of any chemotherapy (NACT or ACT) in 2009 to 2013 was 35% compared to 23% in 1994 to 2008 (P<0.001). Preoperative referral rates during 2009 to 2013 to MO were greater than 1994 to 2008 (32% vs. 11%, P<0.001); referral rates continued to increase in recent years from 21% in 2009 to 44% in 2013 (P<0.001). The proportion of referred patients ultimately treated with NACT increased substantially; from 32% in 1994 to 1998 to 54% in 2009 to 2013 (P<0.001).
Conclusions — After many years of practice lagging behind evidence, use of NACT in the general population has increased substantially. Our results suggest that increased uptake has been driven by greater preoperative referral to MO as well as greater propensity of MOs to treat referred patients.