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Surgery at NCI Centers Shows Better Survival

Patients who had surgery for colon or rectal cancer performed at a National Cancer Institute Designated Center had less risk of death immediately after surgery and better long-term survival.

Looking at nearly 34,000 people who had surgery for colon cancer and 8,600 who had rectal cancer surgery, researchers found a 26 percent increase in long term survival when the operation was done in an NCI-designated cancer center.

Having surgery in an NCI-designated center cut the risk of dying in the hospital or within 30 days after surgery in half for colon cancer patients.  Post surgery deaths were 6.7 percent in non-NCI centers and 3.2 percent in NCI-designated centers.  There was even more difference for rectal cancer where deaths after surgery were 5 percent in non-NCI and 1.9 percent in NCI centers.

The National SEER-Medicare database from 1996 through 2003 was used to determine risk for both immediate post-surgical mortality and long term deaths.

While the research team didn’t have information to figure out the reasons for better outcomes, they speculated that it might be due to better surgeon training, use of multidisciplinary teams, or following treatment guidelines more carefully.

The National Cancer Institute supports 64 cancer centers across the United States as NCI-designated cancer centers because of their dedication to research into cancer prevention and treatment.

You can find an NCI-designated cancer center in your state or one nearby.

Emily Carter Paulson, M.D., and her team concluded,

NCI designation is associated with lower risk of postoperative death and improved long-term survival. Possible factors responsible for these benefits include surgeon training, multidisciplinary care, and adherence to treatment guidelines. Studies are underway to elucidate the factors leading to improved patient outcomes.

SOURCE: Paulson et al., Annals of Surgery, Volume 248, Number 4, October 2008.

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