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Better survival for patients with colon cancer operated on by specialized colorectal surgeons - a nationwide population-based study in Sweden 2007-2010

Journal article
Authors M. Bergvall
S. Skullman
Karl Kodeda
P. A. Larsson
Published in Colorectal Disease
ISSN 1462-8910
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Language en
Keywords Colon cancer, surgery, operation, survival, specialty competence, surgical specialization, emergency presentation, outcomes, volume, impact, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Surgery
Subject categories Cancer and Oncology, Surgery


Aim Mortality and complication rates after surgery for colon cancer are high, especially after emergency procedures. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the importance of the formal competence of surgeons for survival and morbidity. Method The Swedish Colorectal Cancer Registry prospectively records data on patients diagnosed with cancer within the colon and rectum. A cohort of patients operated on for colon cancer between 2007 and 2010 were followed 5 years after surgery. Data on postoperative morbidity, mortality and long-term survival were compared with regard to formal competency of the most senior surgeon attending the procedure. Results This analysis includes 13 365 patients operated on for colon cancer, including 10 434 elective procedures and 2931 emergency cases. The overall 5-year survival was higher for those operated on by subspecialist colorectal surgeons compared with general surgeons (60% vs 48%; P < 0.001). Five-year survival after elective surgery was 63% vs 55% (P < 0.001) and 35% vs 31% (P < 0.05) after emergency procedures when performed by colorectal surgeons compared with general surgeons. Postoperative 30-day mortality was 3% after surgery performed by colorectal surgeons compared with 7% when performed by general surgeons. Mortality at 90 days was 6% after surgery performed by colorectal surgeons compared with 11% for patients operated on by general surgeons (P < 0.001). Conclusion Subspecialization in colorectal surgery is associated with better outcome for patients operated on for colon cancer, and effort should be made to increase the availability of colorectal surgeons for both acute and elective colon cancer surgery.

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