Executive Summary of the American Radium Society Appropriate Use Criteria for Radiation Treatment of Node-Negative Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

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International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics


PURPOSE: Definitive radiation therapy (RT), with or without concurrent chemotherapy, is an alternative to radical cystectomy for patients with localized, muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) who are either not surgical candidates or prefer organ preservation. We aim to synthesize an evidence-based guideline regarding the appropriate use of RT.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: We performed a Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses literature review using the PubMed and Embase databases. Based on the literature review, critical management topics were identified and reformulated into consensus questions. An expert panel was assembled to address key areas of both consensus and controversy using the modified Delphi framework.

RESULTS: A total of 761 articles were screened, of which 61 were published between 1975 and 2019 and included for full review. There were 7 well-designed studies, 20 good quality studies, 28 quality studies with design limitations, and 6 references not suited as primary evidence. Adjuvant radiation therapy after cystectomy was not included owing to lack of high-quality data or clinical use. An expert panel consisting of 14 radiation oncologists, 1 medical oncologist, and 1 urologist was assembled. We identified 4 clinical variants of MIBC: surgically fit patients who wish to pursue organ preservation, patients surgically unfit for cystectomy, patients medically unfit for cisplatin-based chemotherapy, and borderline cystectomy candidates based on age with unilateral hydronephrosis and normal renal function. We identified key areas of controversy, including use of definitive radiation therapy for patients with negative prognostic factors, appropriate radiation therapy dose, fractionation, fields and technique when used, and chemotherapy sequencing and choice of agent.

CONCLUSIONS: There is limited level-one evidence to guide appropriate treatment of MIBC. Studies vary significantly with regards to patient selection, chemotherapy use, and radiation therapy technique. A consensus guideline on the appropriateness of RT for MIBC may aid practicing oncologists in bridging the gap between data and clinical practice.

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