Background: The patterns of radiotherapy (RT) practice for biliary tract cancer (BTC) in Japan are not clearly established.
Methods: A questionnaire-based national survey of RT used for BTC treatment between 2000 and 2011 was conducted by the Japanese Radiation Oncology Study Group. Detailed information was collected for 555 patients from 31 radiation oncology institutions.
Results: The median age of the patients was 69 years old (range, 33-90) and 81% had a good performance status (0-1). Regarding RT treatment, 78% of the patients were treated with external beam RT (EBRT) alone, 17% received intraluminal brachytherapy, and 5% were treated with intraoperative RT. There was no significant difference in the choice of treatment modality among the BTC subsites. Many patients with EBRT were treated with a total dose of 50 or 50.4 Gy (~40%) and only 13% received a total dose ≥60 Gy, even though most institutions (90%) were using CT-based treatment planning. The treatment field consisted of the primary tumor (bed) only in 75% of the patients. Chemotherapy was used for 260 patients (47%) and was most often administered during RT (64%, 167/260), followed by after RT (63%, 163/260). Gemcitabine was the most frequently used drug for chemotherapy.
Conclusions: This study established the general patterns of RT practice for BTC in Japan. Further surveys and comparisons with results from other countries are needed for development and optimization of RT for patients with BTC in Japan.