Background: The Patterns of Care Study evaluated standards of practice for patients with clinically localized prostate cancer treated with radiotherapy in Japan. This study examined the influence of institutional stratification on care for patients receiving radical external beam radiotherapy. Methods: A national survey of 66 institutions was conducted using two-stage cluster sampling, and detailed information was accumulated on 283 patients who received radiotherapy between 1999 and 2001. Results: In A (academic) and B (non-academic) institutions, more than 80% of patients had intermediate or unfavorable risk disease. Although there were no significant differences in disease characteristics between A and B institutions, institutional stratification significantly affected radiotherapy practice patterns, such as the use of a CT-based treatment planning (A1: 91.5%, B: 77.1%; P = 0.0007) and the use of conformal therapy (A: 56.4%, B: 24.1%; P < 0.0001). CT-based treatment planning and conformal therapy significantly influenced total radiation dose (P < 0.0001 for each). Hormonal therapy was commonly used in both A and B institutions (A: 89.0%, B: 90.7%). Many patients with a favorable prognosis (A: 62.5%, B: 91.7%) received hormonal therapy, and most patients with unfavorable risk disease (A: 93.6%, B: 91.6%) also received hormonal therapy. Conclusion: During the period 19 99-2001, the majority of prostate cancer patients treated in Japan with radical external beam radiotherapy had advanced diseases. Institutional stratification significantly affected radiotherapy practice patterns, with the notable exception that radiotherapy was commonly combined with hormonal therapy regardless of the institutional stratification and individual risk.
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