Influence of volume of work on the outcome of treatment for patients with colorectal cancer




Recent recommendations for the reorganization of cancer services emphasize the importance of a ‘minimal acceptable volume of work’. The influence of both hospital and surgical workload has been examined using a population-based series of patients with colorectal cancer.


Nine hundred and twenty-seven patients with primary colorectal cancer diagnosed during the period 1 January to 30 June 1993 were identified from the North Western Regional Cancer Registry. Case notes were reviewed for information on patient age and sex, histological diagnosis, disease stage, degree of tumour differentiation, mode of admission, identity of operating surgeon, timing of operative procedure, and use of radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. A multivariate Cox proportional hazards model was then constructed to examine, simultaneously, the effects of patient-, disease- and health service-related variables on survival.


Age, tumour stage and differentiation, and mode of admission were revealed as significant independent prognostic variables. After adjusting for these variables, neither operator grade (consultant versus junior), consultant workload nor hospital throughput were identified as independently influencing patient survival.


The results of this study do not support an association between volume of work and patient outcome. © 1999 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd