Impact of Treatment Coordination on Overall Survival in Rectal Cancer

Published:January 23, 2021DOI:


      • Lack of coordinated care is associated with increased 5-year mortality.
      • Chemoradiation at the same facility as surgery results in better 5-year survival.
      • Cross-specialty communication and collaboration is essential in rectal cancer care.



      Rectal cancer treatment is often multimodal, comprising of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. However, the impact of coordination between these modalities is currently unknown. We aimed to assess whether delivery of nonsurgical therapy within same facility as surgery impacts survival in patients with rectal cancer.


      A patient cohort with rectal cancer stages II to IV who received multimodal treatment between 2004 and 2016 from National Cancer Database was retrospectively analyzed. Patients were categorized into three groups: (A) surgery + chemotherapy + radiotherapy at same facility (surgery + 2); (B) surgery + chemotherapy or radiotherapy at same facility (surgery + 1); or (C) only surgery at reporting facility (chemotherapy + radiotherapy elsewhere; surgery + 0). The primary outcome was 5-year overall survival (OS), analyzed using Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank tests, and Cox proportional-hazards models.


      A total of 44,716 patients (16,985 [37.98%] surgery + 2, 12,317 [27.54%] surgery + 1, and 15,414 [34.47%] surgery + 0) were included. In univariate analysis, we observed that surgery+2 patients had significantly greater 5-year OS compared to surgery + 1 or surgery + 0 patients (5-year OS: 63.46% vs 62.50% vs 61.41%, respectively; P= .002). We observed similar results in multivariable Cox proportional-hazards analysis, with surgery + 0 group demonstrating increased hazard of mortality when compared to surgery + 2 group (HR: 1.09; P< .001). These results held true after stratification by stage for stage II (HR 1.10; P= .022) and stage III (HR 1.12; P< .001) but not for stage IV (P= .474).


      Greater degree of care coordination within the same facility is associated with greater OS in patients with stage II to III rectal cancer. This finding illustrates the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in multimodal rectal cancer therapy.


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