Complications include pneumonia, urinary tract infections, heart attack, wound infections, need for additional surgery, or abscess drainage. Researchers believe some of these can be prevented.
Nationally, variations exist among hospitals in use of chemotherapy for stage III colorectal cancer. Surgical complications could be one factor that explains this disparity, say researchers; they urge hospitals to adopt quality measures to reduce complications.
"To date, quality guidelines for CRC care have focused on several areas: screening, surveillance, the use and timeliness of adjuvant treatments, surgical specimen quality, and pathology reporting. Results of the present study suggest that avoiding surgical complications may be of equal importance to CRC outcomes as these other quality criteria," they wrote.
The research raises the possibility of cancer quality improvement through a direct focus on surgical safety, according to the authors. "It also prompts the question of whether variations in surgical safety contribute to observed hospital variation in mortality for CRC, through the mechanism of surgical complications leading to chemotherapy omission/delay."