The use of Palliatiave Radiotherapy for bone and brain metastases in Ontario
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Abstract Background: Palliative radiotherapy (PRT) plays an important role in the management of patients with bone and brain metastases; however, little is known about the use of this treatment in Ontario. Objectives: The objectives of this thesis were to a)identify health system-related and patient-related factors associated with the use of PRT for bone and brain metastases , and b) describe temporal trends in the use of PRT for bone and brain metastases. Methods: The Ontario Cancer Registry was used to identify patients who died of cancer between the years 1984 and 2004. Temporal trends in the use of PRT were described by year and disease site, using the Cochran-Armitage test for trend. A multivariate logistic regression was conducted to describe the relationship between health system-related and patient-related factors, and the use of PRT, while controlling for disease-related factors. Results: Overall, 10.0% and 4.1% of patients dying of cancer received at least one course of PRT within the last two years of life for bone metastases and brain metastases, respectively. The use of PRT for bone metastases significantly decreased from 10.4% to 9.5% (p<0.0001), while the use of PRT for brain metastases more than doubled from 2.2 to 5.1% during the same period (p<0.0001). In the multivariate analysis, age was negatively associated with the use of PRT in both cases. Patients residing in the richest communities were more likely to receive treatment. A farther distance to the nearest cancer was negatively associated with the use of PRT. The level of radiotherapy (RT) services at the diagnosing hospital was positively associated with the use of PRT for bone metastases. Prevailing waiting time did not significantly influence the use of PRT in either case. Conclusions: Over the course of the study period, the use of PRT for bone metastases decreased, while the use of PRT for brain metastases increased. Access to PRT for both bone and brain metastases was influenced by factors unrelated to need.