Are academic hospitals better at treating metastatic colorectal cancer?

Surgery. 2021 Feb;169(2):248-256. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2020.05.023. Epub 2020 Jul 14.


Background: There is a strong association between hospital volume and surgical outcomes in resectable colorectal cancer. The purpose of our study was to investigate the association between hospital facility type and survival of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

Methods: Adults from the National Cancer Database (2010-2015) with a primary diagnosis of colorectal metastases were included and stratified by facility type: community cancer program, comprehensive community cancer program, and academic/research program. The primary outcome was 5-year overall survival, analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival curves, log-rank test, and the Cox proportional hazards regression model.

Results: Among the 52,958 included patients, 13.72% were treated at a community cancer program, 49.89% at a comprehensive community cancer program, and 36.29% at an academic/research program. A significant increase in the proportion of patients being treated in an academic/research program has been observed from 2010 to 2015. An academic/research program tended to use more chemotherapy with colorectal radical resection and liver or lung resection and immunotherapy with chemotherapy. In adjusted analysis, the academic/research program had decreased risk of mortality in comparison to the community cancer program and the comprehensive community cancer program (hazard ratio 0.90, 95% confidence interval 0.86-0.94; 0.87, 0.85-0.90; each P < .001; respectively). Similar results were seen after stratifying by metastatic site and treatment type.

Conclusion: The prognosis and overall survival of patients with metastatic disease is better in an academic/research program compared with a community cancer program or a comprehensive community cancer program, with this difference persisting across sites of metastatic disease and treatment types. Further studies are required to validate these results and investigate disparities in the management of metastatic colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cancer Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / statistics & numerical data
  • Colon / surgery
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hepatectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Community / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, High-Volume / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / statistics & numerical data
  • Rectum / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome