There are significant differences in patient outcome after potentially curative surgery for colorectal cancer that relate to the surgeon performing the procedure. The reasons for these differences remain obscure. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the surgeon's specialty on patient outcome after potentially curative colorectal cancer surgery and to identify factors that may help explain differences in outcome among specialty groups.METHODS:
Between 1990 and 1993, 378 patients underwent potentially curative surgery for colorectal cancer by surgeons with different specialty interests, vascular or transplant, general, and colorectal surgeons, in a large teaching hospital. Information on operative details, including the length of the resection specimen, resection margins, whether the tumor was removed with en bloc resection of adjacent clinically involved organs, number of lymph nodes removed, and stage was collected. Factors affecting both local and overall recurrence rates were analyzed using logistic regression analysis at both univariate and multivariate levels.RESULTS:
At a median follow-up of 45 months the only factors associated with a significantly reduced local recurrence rate were the length of the resection specimen (odds ratio, 0.56; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.31-0.99) and colorectal specialty ( P=0.04). Patients operated on by a general surgeon were 3.42 times (95 percent confidence interval, 1.32-8.9) more likely to develop a local recurrence than those operated on by a colorectal surgeon. For overall recurrence, early stage disease ( P<0.0001), absence of vascular invasion (0.005), and colorectal specialty (0.025) were the only factors associated with significantly improved outcome at multivariate analysis.CONCLUSIONS:
These data show that surgeons with an interest in colorectal cancer achieve lower local and overall recurrence rates compared with vascular or transplant or general surgeons. Differences in local recurrence rates seem to be predominantly related to the extent of resection performed and demonstrate the need to remove an adequate specimen when performing potentially curative colorectal cancer surgery.