Research Article

Survival with bladder cancer, evaluation of delay in treatment, type of surgeon, and modality of treatment.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 24 August 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:437
  1. M C Gulliford,
  2. A Petruckevitch,
  3. P G Burney
  1. Department of Public Health Medicine, United Medical School, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine whether length of delay before treatment; specialty and grade of the surgeon; and use made of surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy influenced the survival of patients with cancer of the bladder, after adjusting for case severity. DESIGN--Retrospective cohort study. SETTING--South East and South West Thames health regions. PATIENTS--609 men aged under 75 resident in the South Thames regions who had been registered as new cases of bladder cancer in 1982, 35 of whom were excluded, leaving 574 eligible patients. Analysis was based on 75% retrieval rate for case notes. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Duration of survival from date of diagnosis of the bladder tumour. RESULTS--10 prognostic variables were used to adjust for case severity. The median delay from referral to first treatment was 48 (interquartile range 27-84) days. Treatment after a short delay was associated with shorter survival because of the early treatment of more severe cases. Consultants treated 68% of patients, trainee surgeons treated less severe cases. Initial treatment was by a urologist in 67% of cases, but the specialty of the surgeon was not associated with prognosis. The associations of radiotherapy, cystectomy, and systemic chemotherapy with survival were interpreted in terms of selection bias as well as therapeutic effect. CONCLUSION--Case severity was the most important influence on survival and influenced length of delay before treatment, grade and specialty of the surgeon, and main treatment allocation. After adjusting for case severity variations in these processes of care were not strongly associated with variations in survival.