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The study aimed to investigate whether the surgeon's formal competence is determining for the number of lymph nodes harvested in a well-defined population undergoing routine colon cancer surgery.Data from the colon cancer register 1997-2006 of the Uppsala/Örebro Regional Oncology Centre were used to assess 1362 patients who had undergone right hemicolectomy. Two university, two regional and two local hospitals were included. A colorectal surgeon was defined as a specialist in general surgery with at least 2 years sub-specialisation or formal certification in colorectal surgery. Factors of putative influence on the lymph node yield were evaluated.Colorectal surgeons and university pathology departments were associated with a significantly higherproportion of patients who had 12 or more lymph nodes examined in stages I- III. This was also true in multivariate analysis for colorectal surgeons in stage III (OR 1.92; 95%CI 1.11-3.30) and for university pathology departments in stages I and II (OR 1.51; 95%CI 1.05-2.16) as well as in stage III (OR 2.09; 95%CI 1.32-3.33).The number of lymph nodes assessed in routine colon cancer surgery depends on the competence of the surgeon and the type of pathology department.