Among the approximately 53,000 patients newly diagnosed with early-stage (superficial) bladder cancer each year, there is substantial variability in the progression to muscle-invasive disease. Enhancing risk stratification and risk-stratified surveillance could minimize risks and harms to patients, as well as unnecessary costs to health systems.

As a preliminary step in developing and validating a risk assessment tool for superficial bladder cancer in a population-based clinical cohort, we interviewed urologists who might use such a tool to assess need, determine potential use cases, and identify key features to include.

Using an opportunistic and purposeful sampling design, we invited 13 urologists from a variety of practice settings and with a wide range of clinical experience to take part in qualitative interviews; 9 (5 urologic oncologists and 4 general urologists) participated.

All urologists reported using some form of risk stratification to determine surveillance schedules for patients with bladder cancer. The following use cases were endorsed by 4 or more interviewees: 1) provide evidence to guide clinical management in specific situations, 2) generate patient-facing communication aids, 3) improve documentation about recurrence/progression risk, and 4) create scheduling and callback supports to improve the quality of follow-up care.

Our findings demonstrated several potential clinical-use cases for a risk calculator and clinical decision-support tool for patients with superficial bladder cancer. Clinicians stressed the potential utility of such a tool to improve patient communication, scheduling, and tracking in general urology practice.

The Permanente journal. 2019 Aug 19 [Epub]

Carmit K McMullen, Maureen O’Keeffe Rosetti, Sheila Weinmann, Michael C Leo, Matthew E Nielsen

Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, OR., Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine.