2010 SSO John Wayne clinical research lecture: rectal cancer outcome improvements in Europe: population-based outcome registrations will conquer the world

W van Gijn, C J H van de Velde
Annals of Surgical Oncology 2011, 18 (3): 691-6
During the past two decades, rectal cancer treatment has improved considerably in Europe. Clinical trials played a crucial role in improving surgical techniques, (neo)adjuvant treatment schedules, imaging, and pathology. However, there is still a wide variation in outcome after rectal cancer. In most western health care systems, efforts are made to reduce hospital variation by focusing on selective referral and encouraging patients to seek care in high-volume hospitals. On the other hand, the expertise for diagnosis and treatment of common types of cancer should be preferably widespread and easily accessible for all patients. As an alternative to volume-based referral, hospitals and surgeons can improve their results by learning from their own outcome statistics and those from colleagues treating a similar patient group. Several European surgical (colo)rectal audits have led to improvements with a greater impact than any of the adjuvant therapies currently under study. However, differences remain between European countries, which cannot be easily explained. To generate the best care for colorectal cancer in the whole of Europe and to meet political and public demands for transparency, the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) initiated an international, multidisciplinary, outcome-based quality improvement program: European Registration of Cancer Care (EURECCA). The goal is to create a multidisciplinary European registration structure for patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics linked to outcome registration. Clinical trials will always play a major role in improving rectal cancer treatment. To further improve outcomes and diminish variation, EURECCA will establish the basis for a strong, multidisciplinary, international audit structure that can be used as a template for similar projects worldwide.

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