The impact of cancer patient pathway on timing of radiotherapy and survival: a cohort study in glioblastoma patients

J Neurooncol. 2024 May 19. doi: 10.1007/s11060-024-04709-z. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive brain tumor in which primary therapy is standardized and consists of surgery, radiotherapy (RT), and chemotherapy. However, the optimal time from surgery to start of RT is unknown. A high-grade glioma cancer patient pathway (CPP) was implemented in Norway in 2015 to avoid non-medical delays and regional disparity, and to optimize information flow to patients. This study investigated how CPP affected time to RT after surgery and overall survival.

Methods: This study included consecutive GBM patients diagnosed in South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority from 2006 to 2019 and treated with RT. The pre CPP implementation group constituted patients diagnosed 2006-2014, and the post CPP implementation group constituted patients diagnosed 2016-2019. We evaluated timing of RT and survival in relation to CPP implementation.

Results: A total of 1212 patients with GBM were included. CPP implementation was associated with significantly better outcomes (p < 0.001). Median overall survival was 12.9 months. The odds of receiving RT within four weeks after surgery were significantly higher post CPP implementation (p < 0.001). We found no difference in survival dependent on timing of RT below 4, 4-6 or more than 6 weeks (p = 0.349). Prognostic factors for better outcomes in adjusted analyses were female sex (p = 0.005), younger age (p < 0.001), solitary tumors (p = 0.008), gross total resection (p < 0.001), and higher RT dose (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: CPP implementation significantly reduced time to start of postoperative RT. Survival was significantly longer in the period after the CPP implementation, however, timing of postoperative RT relative to time of surgery did not impact survival.

Keywords: Cancer patient pathway; Glioblastoma; Prognostic factors; Radiotherapy timing; Survival.