The Population Benefit of Radiotherapy for Malignant Brain Tumors: Local Control and Survival Estimates for Guideline-Based Use

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Objective: To estimate the population benefit of radiotherapy (RT) for primary malignant brain tumors if evidence-based guidelines were routinely followed. Methods: This study investigated 5-year local control (LC) and 2- and 5-year overall survival (OS) benefits. RT benefit was the absolute proportional benefit of RT alone over no RT for radical indications, and over surgery alone for adjuvant indications. Chemoradiotherapy (CRT) benefit was the absolute incremental benefit of concurrent chemotherapy and RT over RT alone. Decision tree models were adapted to define the incidence of each indication. Citation databases were systematically queried for the highest level of evidence defining indication benefits. Meta-analysis was performed if there were multiple sources of the same evidence level, and deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analysis was also performed. Results: Among all patients with malignant brain tumors, 82% had indications for curative- or adjuvant-intent RT. The magnitude of benefit was based on level I or II evidence in 44% of all patients. A total of 25 relevant studies were used to quantify indication benefits. All RT benefit included in the model was irreplaceable. For malignant brain tumors, the estimated population benefit for RT alone was 9% for 5-year LC (95% CI, 7%–10%), 9% for 2-year OS (95% CI, 8%–11%), and 5% for 5-year OS (95% CI, 4%–5%). The incremental benefit of CRT was 1% for 5-year LC (95% CI, 0%–2%), 7% for 2-year OS (95% CI, 4%–11%), and 3% for 5-year OS (95% CI, 1%–5%). The model was robust in sensitivity analysis. Conclusions: When optimally used, RT provides an important benefit for many patients with malignant brain tumors. The model provided a robust means for estimating the magnitude of this benefit.

Author Contributions: Study concept and design: Hanna, Delaney, and Barton. Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Hanna, Delaney, and Barton. Drafting of manuscript: Hanna. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Hanna, Delaney, and Barton. Statistical analysis: Hanna. Administrative, technical, or material support: Hanna, Delaney, and Barton. Study supervision: Delaney and Barton.

Correspondence: Timothy Paul Hanna, MD, MSc, PhD, FRCPC, Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, Cancer Research Institute at Queen's University, 10 Stuart Street, 2nd Level, Kingston, Ontario K7L3N6, Canada. E-mail:

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