Patterns of use and outcomes for radiation therapy in the Quality Initiative in Rectal Cancer (QIRC) trial
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BACKGROUND: The Quality Initiative in Rectal Cancer (QIRC) trial targeted surgeon intraoperative technique and not radiation therapy (RT) use. We performed a post hoc analysis of RT use among patients in the QIRC trial, not by arm of trial but rather for the entire group. We wished to identify associations between local recurrence risk and use of preoperative, postoperative or no RT. METHODS: We compared demographic, tumour and process of care measures among patients receiving preoperative, postoperative or no RT. A multivariable Cox regression model assessed local recurrence risk. RESULTS: The QIRC trial enrolled 1015 patients at 16 hospitals between 2002 and 2004. Radiation therapy use did not differ between trial arms, and median follow-up was 3.6 years. For the preoperative, postoperative and no RT groups, respectively, the percentage of patients was 12.8%, 19.3% and 67.9%; the percentage of stage II/III tumours was 57.0%, 88.7% and 48.1%; and the local recurrence rate was 5.3%, 10.2% and 5.5% (p = 0.05). After controlling for patient and tumour characteristics, including tumour stage, the hazard ratio (HR) for local recurrence was increased in the postoperative RT versus the no RT group (HR 1.64, 95% confidence interval 1.04-2.58, p = 0.027). CONCLUSION: Use of preoperative RT was low; most patients with stage II/III disease did not receive RT and, as expected, the postoperative RT group had the highest risk of local recurrence. Our results suggest opportunities to improve rectal cancer RT use in Ontario.
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