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Variations in death rates after surgery for oesophageal and gastric cancers
Date:10/1/2013

A pilot study has shown large variations between European countries in patient survival after surgery for oesophageal and gastric cancers. The 2013 European Cancer Congress (ECC2013) [1] will hear today (Tuesday) that the reasons for these differences are not clear and cannot be explained simply in terms of the volume of patients treated at each hospital.

Numerous previous studies have shown that hospitals that see and treat the highest numbers of patients for a variety of diseases and conditions ranging from cancer to cardiology tend to have greater expertise, resulting in better outcomes for the patients they treat. However, this latest study shows that this is not necessarily the full story, and, as a result, Dr Johan Dikken (MD, PhD), a surgical resident at the Leiden University Medical Center and the Medical Center Haaglanden (The Netherlands), will tell the congress that European cancer surgeons have launched a new initiative the European Upper GI Cancer Audit (EURECCA Upper GI) to find out the reasons for the differences between countries.

The pilot study, which ran between 2004 and 2009, examined outcomes after 10,854 surgical operations for oesophageal cancer and 9,010 operations for gastric cancer in The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and England. It looked at how survival 30 days after surgery was related to the volume of operations carried out at each hospital in the four countries.

"The study confirmed that hospitals that treated the highest numbers of patients tended to have better outcomes after surgery for oesophageal and gastric cancer," Dr Dikken will say. "However, differences in outcomes between several European countries could not be explained by existing differences in hospital volumes. To understand these differences, we have set up the European Upper GI Cancer Audit and we are developing uniform data registration. It will require a lot of effort to harmonise and synchronise data between countries before proper
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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