Purpose: Population-based cancer registries can permit the study of the survivorship of all patients with a particular diagnosis regardless of patterns of referral and practice within a specific geographic distribution. The purpose of this study is to describe the patterns of care, outcome, and prognostic factors for bladder cancer in the northern region of the province of Alberta, Canada, between 1984 and 1993.
Methods and materials: Between 1984 and 1993, 184 patients from northern Alberta were identified from the Alberta Cancer Registry as having undergone curative treatment for biopsy-proven muscle-invasive transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. Data were obtained, by retrospective chart review, regarding the staging, pathology, treatment, and outcome of patients treated in the northern Alberta cities of Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Red Deer, regardless of the responsible treating institution. The prognostic significance of patient-, tumor-, and treatment-related variables were tested using univariate and multivariate analysis using the Cox proportional-hazard model.
Results: As the primary treatment modality, 74 patients (40%) received radical radiotherapy (RT) without surgery; surgery was used alone in 81 patients (44%), and was combined with preoperative or postoperative radiotherapy in 29 patients (16%). Seventy-three (40%) patients also received concurrent, neoadjuvant, or adjuvant chemotherapy. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of median survival was 2.2 years, and the 5-year overall survival was 30%. Univariate analysis demonstrated the prognostic significance of T classification (p < 0.001), lymph node involvement (p < 0.001), complete response to RT (p = 0.001), hydronephrosis (p = 0.017), and vascular/lymphatic involvement (p = 0.035). Multivariate analysis revealed the following to have a significant association with survival: T classification (p = 0.001), lymph node involvement (p = 0.004), complete response to RT (p = 0.054), hydronephrosis (p = 0.019), and use of chemotherapy in the treatment regimen (p = 0.025).
Conclusion: The strongest prognostic factors in this study were tumor related, and no significant differences in survival were detected between patients treated with primary surgery vs. organ-preservation approaches. A survival advantage associated with the incorporation of chemotherapy into the management schema was detected on multivariate, but not univariate, analysis. Stratification of patients based on tumor characteristics is imperative in clinical trials for invasive bladder cancer. Novel treatment approaches are required to improve survival further in patients with apparently localized disease.