Robert A. Olson, BSc MD FRCPC MSc

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

City: Prince George
Hospital Authority: Provincial Health Services

Address: BCCA-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


Special Interests

  • Rural cancer care delivery
  • Head and Neck cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer

Dr. Olson was the first physician hired to the BC Cancer Agency – Centre for the North (BCCA-CN), where he primarily treats Head & Neck, Breast, Palliative, and Lung cancer patients. He is the Research & Clinical Trials Lead, as well as the Fellowship Director. He has opened the first cancer clinical trials in Northern BC, as well as being the provincial principal investigator on numerous clinical trials.

Working with the Northern Medical Program (NMP), Dr. Olson is the Director of Faculty Development, as well as the Discipline Specific Site Leader for radiation oncology. However, his primary relationship with the NMP is conducting research. Although he has a diverse area of interest aimed at improving cancer care for patients in BC, his primary areas of interest are: (1) collecting patient reported outcomes, and subsequently improving cancer care based on patients’ feedback, and (2) improving cancer care for rural and northern patients. Since starting with the NMP, Dr. Olson has published 19 manuscripts and secured over 15 grants totaling approximately 2.5 million dollars.

• 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. 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. Accepted to Radiotherapy and Oncology March 28, 2016.
  2. Tiwana M, Barnes M, Kiraly A, Olson R. Utilization of palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases near end of life in a population-based cohort. Accepted to BMC Palliative Care Dec 7, 2015.
  3. 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. Accepted to Radiotherapy and Oncology Oct 24, 2015.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. Accepted Sep 30, 2015 to J Thorac Oncol.
  8. 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. Accepted to Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2016;94 (1):40-7.
  9. 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. Accepted to Current Oncology on Feb 26, 2015.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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. Accepted to Breast Cancer Res Treat. Published online Dec 13, 2013.
  21. 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. Epub ahead of print Feb 22 2014.
  22. 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. Published online first Nov 8, 2013.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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).
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. Olson R, Hung G, Bobinski M A, Goddard K. Prospective evaluation of legal difficulties and quality of lifein adult survivors of childhood cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011;56:437-43.
  42. Olson R, Parkinson M, McKenzie M. Selection bias introduced by neuropsychological assessments.Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 2010;37:264-8.
  43. Olson R, Chhanabhai T, McKenzie M. Feasibility study of the Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA) inpatients with brain metastases. Support Care Cancer 2008;16:1273-8.
  44. Hausner G, Olson R, Johnson I, Simon D, Sanders E, Karol K, McCourt R, and Zimmerly S. Origin andevolution of trnK (matK) intron: A model for evolution of group II intron RNA structures. Molecular Biologyand Evolution 2006;23(2):380-91.
  45. Dai L, Toor N, Olson R, Keeping A, Zimmerly S. Database for mobile group II introns. Nucleic AcidsResearch 2003;31(1):424-6. [highlighted in the NetWatch section of Science 2004;303:1115.]

For further information about education, clinical, research interests and publication list- see Dr. Olson’s complete CV