Outcomes in 2748 patients referred to a colorectal two-week rule clinic


R. A. Smith, Department of Surgery, Countess of Chester Hospital, Chester CH2 1UL, UK.
E-mail: richsmith@doctors.org.uk


Objective  To assess the 3-year outcomes of a nurse-led, one-stop, 2-week rule (TWR) clinic for suspected colorectal cancer (CRC) in a large teaching hospital.

Method  Data were collected prospectively from January 2002 to December 2004. In total, 2748 patients were seen over the 3-year period. The ratio of male:female subjects was 1190:1558 (43%:57%). Median age at presentation was 66 years (range 17–96).

Results  A total of 1363 (49.6%) nonconforming referrals were made; 1300 patients (47.3%) underwent flexible sigmoidoscopy during their initial assessment in clinic; 1439 patients (52.4%) underwent a barium enema during the course of their investigation; 2503 patients (91.1%) were seen within 14 working days. The median overall wait for the initial clinic appointment was 10 days. The annual number of patients seen was similar over the 3-year period. A total of 174 cancers (6.3%) were identified which accounted for 36.4% of all CRCs diagnosed during the study period. Nineteen cancers presented in the nonconforming group (1.6% of all non-conforming patients). Rectal tumours accounted for 59.8% (n = 104) of all cancers diagnosed while right-sided tumours accounted for only 10.9% (n = 19). Advanced tumours accounted for 73.0% (n = 127) of the total; 133 (76.4%) cancer patients underwent some form of surgical intervention.

Conclusion  A specialist nurse-led, one-stop TWR clinic for suspected colorectal cancer is sustainable and can be run successfully with over 90% of referrals seen within the targeted time period. The proportion of non-conforming referrals was high and a large number of advanced and unstaged tumours was observed. Low numbers of proximal tumours were detected.