Impact of delay to surgery on survival in stage I-III colon cancer

Fabian Grass, Kevin T. Behm, Emilie Duchalais, Jacopo Crippa, Grant M. Spears, William S. Harmsen, Martin Hübner, Kellie L. Mathis, Scott R. Kelley, John H. Pemberton, Eric J. Dozois, David W. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess the impact of delay from diagnosis to curative surgery on survival in patients with non-metastatic colon cancer. Methods: National Cancer database (NCDB) analysis (2004–2013) including all consecutive patients diagnosed with stage I-III colon cancer and treated with primary elective curative surgery. Short and long delays were defined as lower and upper quartiles of time from diagnosis to treatment, respectively. Age-, sex-, race-, tumor stage and location-, adjuvant treatment-, comorbidity- and socioeconomic factors-adjusted overall survival (OS) was compared between the two groups (short vs. long delay). A multivariable Cox regression model was used to identify the independent impact of each factor on OS. Results: Time to treatment was <16 days in the short delay group (31,171 patients) and ≥37 days in the long delay group (29,617 patients). OS was 75.4 vs. 71.9% at 5 years and 56.6 vs. 49.7% at 10 years in short and long delay groups, respectively (both p < 0.0001). Besides demographic (comorbidities, advanced age) and pathological factors (transverse and right-vs. left-sided location, advanced tumor stage, poor differentiation, positive microscopic margins), treatment delay had a significant impact on OS (HR 1.06, 95% CI 1.05–1.07 per 14 day-delay) upon multivariable analysis. The adjusted hazard ratio for death increased continuously with delay times of longer than 30 days, to become significant after a delay of 40 days. Conclusion: This analysis using a national cancer database revealed a significant impact on OS when surgeries for resectable colon cancer were delayed beyond 40 days from time of diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-461
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Colon cancer
  • Survival
  • Treatment delay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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