Robert A. Olson, BSc MD FRCPC MSc

Associate Professor, Partner
Head, Division of Radiation Oncology and Developmental Radiotherapeutics
Research Lead, UBC Northern Medical Program
Active Staff: Department Head| Radiation Oncologist, BC Cancer Agency – Centre for the North

City: Prince George
Hospital Authority: Provincial Health Services

Address: BCC-CN
1215 Lethbridge Street
Prince George, BC V2M 7E9

Phone:   250.645.7325
Fax:  250.546.7361
Toll-free (within BC): 1.855.775.7300


Research Interests

  • Health Services Delivery Research
  • Collection and Use of Patient Reported Outcomes
  • Clinical Trials

Clinical Subspecialty

  • Head and Neck cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer

Dr. Olson is the provincial Division Head of Radiation Oncology & Developmental Radiotherapeutics at UBC, overseeing the academic activities of Radiation Oncologists, residents, and fellows at all six BC Cancer centres, working closely with the clinical Provincial Lead of Radiotherapy at BC Cancer.
After initially practicing in Vancouver, Dr. Olson was the first physician hired to the BC Cancer Centre for the North in Prince George, where he primarily treats Head & Neck, Breast, and Lung cancer patients. He is Centre for the North’s Radiation Oncology Department Head, Research Lead, and Fellowship Director.

Dr. Olson is also actively engaged in leadership with the Northern Medical Program (NMP) which is a collaboration with the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and UBC. He is the former director of faculty development and continues to educate physicians on practical methods to improve their teaching skills of medical students, residents, and fellows. Currently, he is the Research Lead in the NMP, and he works closely with PHSA, Northern Health, UBC, UNBC, and other partners to improve the research capacity in northern BC.

Dr. Olson’s main areas of research include (1) health services delivery research with a focus on improving evidence based prescribing practices in radiation oncology and delivery of care in rural and remote communities, (2) collecting patient reported outcomes, and subsequently improving cancer care based on patients’ feedback, and (3) operating clinical trials, with a current focus on investigating stereotactic ablative radiotherapy in the setting of metastatic disease.

• Harvard University: Master of Science in Epidemiology 2010
• University of British Columbia: FRCPC in Radiation Oncology 2010
• University of Calgary: Medical Doctor 2005
• University of Calgary: Bachelor of Science in Cellular Molecular and Microbial Biology 2002


  1. Dang A, Miller S, Horvat D, Klassen-Ross T, Graveline M, Collins R, Olson R. Assessing post radiotherapy handover notes from a family physician perspective. Accepted to Current Oncology Sep 1, 2017.
  2. Hasan H, Yu J, Taguchi K, Samargandit OA, Howard F, Lo A, Olson R, Goddard K. Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews in Radiation Oncology: A systematic review. Accepted to Cancer Epidemiology Aug 22, 2017.
  3. Yang L, Manhas D, Howard F, Olson R. Patient reported outcome use in oncology: A systematic review of the impact on patient-clinician communication. Accepted to Supportive Care in Cancer Aug 20, 2017.
  4. Lefresne S, Olson R, Cashman R, Kostuik P, Jiang WN, Levy K, McKenzie M, Hulstyn A, Liu M, Wu J, Berthelet E. Prospective analysis of patient reported symptoms and quality of life in patients with incurable lung cancer treated in a rapid access clinic. Lung Cancer 2017;112:35-40.
  5. McLay M, Stedford A, Yurkowski E, Matlock S, Cheung W, Tran E, Berthelet E, Wu J, Olson R. Population-based assessment of relationship between volume of practice and outcomes in head and neck cancer patients treated in a provincially coordinated radiotherapy program. Accepted to Radiotherapy and Oncology June 4, 2017.
  6. Olson R, Howard F, Lapointe F, Schellenberg D, Nichol A, Bowering G, Curtis S, Walter A, Brown S, Thompson C, Bergin J, Lomas S, French S, Halperin R, Tyldesley S, Beckham. Provinical development of a patient reported outcome initiative to guide patient care, quality improvement, and research. Accepted to Healthcare Management Forum May 25, 2017.
  7. Koulis T, Beecham K, Speers C, Tyldesley S, Voduc D, Simmons C, Olson R. Neoadjuvant systemic therapy in breast cancer; utilization and radiotherapy practice trends. Accepted to Current Oncology May 17, 2017.
  8. Kim J, Chang J, Maghaddamjou A, Kornelsen E, Ruan J, Olson R, Cheung W. Asian and non-Asian disparities in outcomes of non-nasopharygeal head and neck cancer. The Laryngoscope published online Apr 11, 2017.
  9. Dang A, Horvat D, Klassen-Ross T, Collins R, Graveline M, Olson R. Evaluation and improvement of radiation oncology therapy completion note. Accepted to the BC Medical Journal April 19, 2017.
  10. Vodermaier A, Lucas S, Linden W, Olson R. Anxiety after diagnosis predicts lung-cancer specific and overall survival in patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer. A population-based cohort study. Accepted to Journal of Pain and Symptom Management Dec 27, 2016.
  11. McColl R, McGahan C, Cai E, Olson R, Cheung W, Raval M, Phan T, Karimuddin A, Brown C. Impact of hospital volume on quality indicators for rectal cancer surgery in British Columbia, Canada. Accepted to the American Journal of Surgery Aug 23, 2016.
  12. Conway J, Yurkowski E, Glazier J, Gentles Q, Walter A, Bowering G, Curtis S, Schellenberg D, Halperin R, Lapointe V, Beckham W, Olivotto I, Olson R. Comparison of patient-reported outcomes with single versus multiple fraction palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases in a population-based cohort. Radiotherapy and Oncology 2016:119:202-7.
  13. Tiwana M, Barnes M, Kiraly A, Olson R. Utilization of palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases near end of life in a population-based cohort. BMC Palliative Care 2016;15:2.
  14. Barnes M, Tiwana M, Miller S, Kiraly A, Olivotto I, Emmons, S, Olson R. Palliative radiotherapy fractionation schedules prescribed are dependent on the distance a patient travels to receive treatment. Radiotherapy and Oncology 2015;117(2):390-2.
  15. Tiwana M, Barnes M, Yurkowski E, Roden K, Olson R. Incidence and treatment patterns of complicated bone metastases in a population based radiotherapy program. Radiotherapy and Oncology 2016:118(3):552-6.
  16. Nichol A, McKenzie M, Ma R, Cheung A, Schellenberg D, Peacock M, Vellani R, Vollans E, Bergman A, Hsu F, Germain F, Gondara L, Olson R, Carolan, H. Volumetric radiosurgery for one to ten brain metastases: a multi-centre, single-arm, phase 2 study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2016:94(2):312-21 (IF 4.525).
    1. Barnes M, Tiwana M, Kiraly A, Hutchison M, Olson R. Incidence of distal bone metastases in patients treated for palliative radiotherapy and associations with primary tumour type. Journal of Bone Oncology 2015 4(4): 107-9.
  17. Rodin D, Grover S, Xu M, Hanna T, Olson R, Schreiner J, Momex F, Palma D, Gaspar L. Radiotherapeutic management of non-small cell lung cancer in the minimal resource setting. J Thorac Oncol 2016 11(1) 21-9.
  18. Olson R, Tiwana M, Barnes M, Cai E, McGahan C, Roden K, Yurkowski E, Gentles Q, French J, Halperin R, Olivotto I. Impact of using audit data to improve evidence based utilization of single fraction radiotherapy for bone metastases in British Columbia. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2016;94 (1):40-7.
  19. Olivotto IA, Soo J, Olson R, Rowe MA, French J, Jensen B, Pastuch A, Halperin R, Truong P. Patient preferences for timing and access to radiation therapy. Current Oncology 2015 22(4):279-86.
  20. Lo A, Olson R, Feldman-Stewart, Truong P, Parsons C, Bottorff J, Carolan H. A patient-centred approach to evaluate the information needs of women with ductal carcinoma in situ. Accepted to American Journal of Clinical Oncology Jan 16, 2015.
  21. Hamilton S, Tydelsey S, Speers C, Li D, Olson R, McBride M. Second malignancies after adjuvant radiotherapy for early stage breast cancer: Is there an increased risk with the addition of regional radiation to local radiation? Int J Radiat Biol Phys 2015:91(5):977-85.
  22. Ye A, Cheung W, Goddard K, Horvat D, Olson R. Follow-up Patterns of Cancer Survivors: A Survey of Canadian Radiation Oncologists. J Cancer Surviv 2015 9:388-493. (IF 3.570).
  23. Lefresne S, Berthelet E, Cashman R, Levy K, Liu M, Carolan H, McKenzie M, Kostuik P, Olson R. The Vancouver Rapid Access Clinic for Palliative Lung Radiation: Providing More than Just Rapid Access. Supportive Care in Cancer 2015:23:125-32.
  24. Cao J, Truong P, Olivotto I, Olson R, Coulombe G, Keyes M, Weir L, Gelmon K, Bernstein V, Woods R, Speers C, Tyldesley S. Should women younger than 40 years of age with invasive breast cancer have a mastectomy? 15-year outcomes of a population-based cohort. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Physics 2014:90(3):509-17.
  25. Olson R, Tiwana M, Barnes M, Kiraly A, Beecham K, Miller S, Hoegler D, Olivotto I. Use of single versus multiple fraction palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases: Population-based analysis of 16,898 courses in a Canadian Province. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Physics 2014; 89:1092-9.
  26. Tiwana M, Wu J, Hay J, Wong F, Cheung W, Olson R. 25 year survival outcomes for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: population-based outcomes from a Canadian province. Published online in Oral Oncology April 14, 2014.
  27. Lo A, Liu M, Chan E, Lund C, Truong P, Loewen S, Cao J, Schellenberg D, Carolan H, Berrang T, Wu J, and Olson R. The impact of peer review of structure contouring in Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) planning for primary lung cancer: a multi-center quality assurance study. J Thorac Oncol 2014;9(4):527-33.
  28. Tiwana M, Wu J, Hay J, Wong F, Cheung W, Olson R. Incidence of second metachronous head and neck cancers: population-based outcomes from a Canadian province over 25 years. Laryngoscope 2014;124:2287-91.
  29. Howard F, Smillie K, Turnbull K, Munroe D, Ward A, Kazanjian A, Olson R. Access to Medical and Supportive Care for Rural and Remote Cancer Survivors in Northern British Columbia. The Journal of Rural Health 2014;30:311-21.
  30. Vodermaier A, Linden W, Rnic K, Young S, Ng A, Ditsch N, Olson R. Prospective associations of depressions with survival: A population-based cohort study in patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2014 143(2):373-84.
  31. Howard F, Hasan H, Bobinski MA, Nurcombe W, Olson R, Parkinson M, Goddard K. Parents Perspectives of Life Challenges Experienced by Long-Term Paediatric Brain Tumour Survivors: Work and Finances, Daily and Social Functioning, and Legal Difficulties. Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice 2014 8:372-83.
  32. Howard F, Tan de Bibiana J, Smillie K, Goddard K, Pritchard S, Olson R, & Kazanjian A. Trajectories of social isolation in adult survivors of childhood cancer. Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice 2014 8(1):80-93.
  33. Olson R, Howard F, Turnbull K, Munroe D, Zirul C, Manji R, Tobin P, Ward A. Prospective evaluation of unmet needs of rural & aboriginal cancer survivors in northern British Columbia. Current Oncology 2014;21(2):e179-85. FA & SA (IF 1.625)
  34. Davidson A, Chia S, Olson R, Nichol A, Speers C, Coldman A, Bajdik C, Woods R, Tyldesly S. Population-based stage, treatment and outcomes cohort study for patients diagnosed with breast cancer in British Columbia in 2002. CMAJ Open 2013;1(4) E134-41.
  35. Lund C, Cao J, Olson R, Halperin R, Liu M. The distribution and patterns of practice of stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy in Canada. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences 2014;45(1):8-15.
  36. Olson R, Karam I, Wilson G, Bowman A, Lee C, Wong F. Population based comparison of two feeding tube approaches for head & neck cancer patients receiving concurrent systemic-radiation therapy: Is a prophylactic feeding tube approach harmful or helpful? Supportive Care in Cancer 2013; 21: 3433-9.
  37. Cao J, Olson R, Tyldesley S. Comparison of Recurrence and Survival Rates between Breast-Conserving Therapy and Mastectomy in Young Women with Breast Cancer. Current Oncology 2013; 20(6): e593-601.
  38. Lefresne S, Olivotto I, Jo H, Blood P, and Olson R. Impact of Quality Assurance Rounds in a Canadian Radiotherapy Department. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2013; 85 (3) e117-121.
  39. Palma D, Haasbeek C, Rodrigues G, Dahele M, Lock M, Yaremko B, Olson R, Liu M, Panarotto J, Griffioen G, Gaede S, Slotman B, Senan S. Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy for comprehensive treatment of oligometastatic tumors (SABR-COMET): Study protocol for a randomized phase II trial. BMC Cancer 2012; 12 (1) 305.
  40. Lengoc S, Soo J, McGahan C, French J, Tyldesley S, Olson R. Referral Patterns of Patients for Palliative Radiation Therapy in British Columbia: A Comparison Between Rural and Urban Family Physicians. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences 2012; 43: 161-7.
  41. Olson R, Lengoc S, Tyldesley S, French J, McGahan C, Soo J. Relationships between family physicians’ referral for palliative radiotherapy, knowledge of radiotherapy indications, and prior training: a survey of rural and urban physicians. Radiation Oncology 2012; 7(73).
  42. Olson R, Caon J, Tyldesley S, Bergman A, Bobinski M A, Fong M, Vellani R, Goddard K. National survey of health care providers’ views on the risk of inadvertent exposure of pregnant patients to ionizing radiation in Canadian radiotherapy departments. J Radiat Oncol 2012; 1(1): 81-5.
  43. Kosztyla R, Olson R, Carolan H, Balkwill S, Moiseenko V, Kwan W. Evaluation of dosimetric consequences of seroma contour variability in accelerated partial breast irradiation using a constructed representative seroma contour. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2012;84:527-32.
  44. Olson R, Woods R, Speers C, Lau J, Lo A, Truong P, Tyldesley S, Olivotto I, Weir L. Does the intent to irradiate the internal mammary nodes impact survival in women with breast cancer? A population based analysis in British Columbia. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2012; 83(1):e35-41.
  45. Caon J, Olson R, Tyldesley S, Bergman A, Bobinski M, Fong M, Ma V, Vellani R, Goddard K. Assessing the risk of inadvertent radiation exposure of pregnant patients during radiation therapy planning and treatment in British Columbia. Practical Radiation Oncology 2012; 2(3):179-85.
  46. Olson R, Nichol A, Caron N, Olivotto I, Speers C, Chia S, Davidson A, Coldman A, Bajdik C, Tyldesley S. Effect of community population size on breast cancer screening, stage distribution, treatment use and outcomes. Can J Public Health 2012;103(1):46-52.
  47. Olson R, Bobinski MA, Ho A, Goddard K. Oncologists’ views of informed consent and shared decision making in paediatric radiation oncology. Radiotherapy & Oncology 2012;102:210-13.
  48. Olson R, Brastianos P, Palma D. Predictive value of epigenetic silencing of MGMT in patients with high grade gliomas: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Neuro-Oncology 2011;105(2):325-35.
  49. Olson R, Iverson G, Carolan H, Parkinson M, Brooks B, McKenzie M. Prospective comparison of two cognitive screening tests: Diagnostic accuracy and correlation with community integration and quality of life. Journal of Neuro-Oncology 2011;105(2):337-44.
  50. Olson R, Tyldesley S, Carolan H, Parkinson M, Chhanabhai T, McKenzie M. Prospective comparison of the prognostic utility of the Mini Mental State Examination and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment in patients with brain metastases. Supportive Care in Cancer 2011;19(11):1849-55.
  51. Olson R, Hung G, Bobinski M A, Goddard K. Prospective evaluation of legal difficulties and quality of life in adult survivors of childhood cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011;56:437-43.
  52. Olson R, Parkinson M, McKenzie M. Selection bias introduced by neuropsychological assessments. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 2010;37:264-8.
  53. Olson R, Chhanabhai T, McKenzie M. Feasibility study of the Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA) in patients with brain metastases. Support Care Cancer 2008;16:1273-8.
  54. Hausner G, Olson R, Johnson I, Simon D, Sanders E, Karol K, McCourt R, and Zimmerly S. Origin and evolution of trnK (matK) intron: A model for evolution of group II intron RNA structures. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2006;23(2):380-91.
  55. Dai L, Toor N, Olson R, Keeping A, Zimmerly S. Database for mobile group II introns. Nucleic Acids Research 2003;31(1):424-6. CA [highlighted in the NetWatch section of Science 2004;303:1115.]

For further information, please visit Dr. Olson’s ResearchGate page.