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Use of radiotherapy for bladder cancer: a population-based study of evolving referral and practice patterns


Introduction — Definitive treatment for muscle-invasive bladder cancer includes either cystectomy or radiotherapy (RT). We describe use of RT and radiation oncology (RO) referral patterns in the contemporary era.

Methods — The Ontario Cancer Registry and linked records of treatment were used to identify all patients who received cystectomy or RT for bladder cancer from 1994-2013. Physician billing records were linked to identify RO consultation before radical treatment. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to examine patient factors and physician-level variation in referral to RO and use of RT.

Results — A total of 7461 patients underwent cystectomy or RT for bladder cancer from 1994-2013; 5574 (75%) had cystectomy and 1887 (25%) had RT. Use of RT decreased from 43% (126/289) in 1994 to 23% (112/478) in 2008 and remained stable from 2009-2013 (23%, 507/2202). RO referral rate among all cases decreased from 46% (134/289) in 1994 to 30% (143/478) in 2008; however, the rates began to rise in the contemporary era from 31% (137/442) in 2009 to 37% (165/448) in 2013 (p=0.03). Patient factors associated with use of RT include older age, greater comorbidity, and geographic location. Surgeon-level factors associated with greater preoperative referral to RO include higher surgeon case volume and practicing in a teaching hospital.

Conclusions — One-quarter of patients treated with curative intent therapy for bladder cancer receive RT. While referral rates to RO are increasing, future data will identify the extent to which this has altered practice. Collaborative efforts promoting multidisciplinary care and RO consultation before radical treatment are warranted.



Wei X, Siemens DR, Mackillop WJ, Booth CM. Can Urol Assoc J. 2019; 13(4):92-101. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

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