Original communication| Volume 139, ISSUE 3, P296-304, March 2006

The influence of the surgeon’s and the hospital’s caseload on survival and local recurrence after colorectal cancer surgery


      Past studies have identified surgeon- and institution- related characteristics as prognostic factors in colorectal cancer surgery. The present work assesses the influence of the surgeon’s and the hospital’s caseload on long-term results of colorectal cancer surgery.


      The data on 2706 patients from 2, randomized, colorectal cancer trials (Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research [SAKK] 40/81, SAKK 40/87) investigating adjuvant intraportal and systemic chemotherapy and 1 concurrent registration study (SAKK 40/88) were reviewed. A first analysis included 1809 eligible, nonmetastatic patients from all 3 studies. A subsequent subgroup analysis included 915 eligible patients from both randomized trials. Overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), and local recurrence (LR) were analyzed in multivariate models taking into account the possible effect of clustering. The main potential covariates were surgeon’s annual caseload (>5 operations/year vs ≤5 operations/year), hospital’s annual caseload (>26 operations/year vs ≤26 operations/year), tumor site, T stage, and nodal status.


      Primary analysis of all 3 studies combined found a high surgeon’s caseload to be positively associated with OS (P = .025) and marginally with DFS (P = .058). Separate analysis for each trial, however, showed that a high surgeon’s caseload was beneficial for outcome in both randomized trials but not in the registration study. A subgroup analysis of 915 patients with 376 rectal and 539 colonic primaries from both randomized trials, therefore, was performed. Neither age, gender, year of operation, adjuvant chemotherapy (intraportal vs systemic vs operation alone), hospital academic status (university vs nonuniversity), training status of the surgeon (certified surgeon vs surgeon-in-training), nor inclusion in 1 of the 2 randomized trials (SAKK 40/81 vs SAKK 40/87) was a significant predictor of outcome. However, both high surgeon’s and high hospital’s annual caseloads were independent, beneficial prognostic factors for OS (P = .0003, P = .044) and DFS (P = .0008, P = .020), and marginally significant factors for LR (P = .057, P = .055).


      High surgeon’s and hospital’s annual caseloads are strong, independent prognostic factors for extending overall and disease-free survival and reducing the rate of local recurrence in 2 randomized colorectal cancer trials.
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