Background: The evidence for a relationship between patient outcomes and clinician and hospital volume is increasing. The National Colorectal Cancer Care Survey was undertaken to determine the management patterns in Australia for individuals newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer in a 3 month period in the year 2000.
Methods: All new cases of colorectal cancer registered at each Australian State Cancer Registry were entered into the survey. This generated a questionnaire that was sent to the treating surgeon. Chi-squared tests and logistic regression analyses were used to determine levels of statistical significance.
Results: Of 2,383 surgical questionnaires generated, 2,015 (85%) were completed. The majority (58%) of surgeons treated one or two patients with colorectal cancer over the 3 months of the survey. There was variation across surgeon cohorts for preoperative measures including the use of deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis. Patients seen by low volume surgeons were most likely to be given a permanent stoma (P < 0.0001). Patients with rectal cancer who were operated on by high volume surgeons were significantly more likely to receive a colonic pouch (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: This nationwide population-based survey of the treatment of colorectal cancer patients suggests that the delivery of care by surgeons (the majority) who treat patients with rectal cancer infrequently should be evaluated.