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Indian J Surg. 2011 Jun;73(3):194-8. doi: 10.1007/s12262-010-0197-y. Epub 2011 Feb 15.

Surgeons' Evaluation of Colorectal Cancer Resections Against Standard HPE Protocol-Auditing the Surgeons.

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Universiti Kebangsaan Medical Centre, Jalan Yaacob Latif. Bandar Tun Razak, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


The survival of Colorectal Cancer patients is very much dependent on complete tumor resection and multimodality adjuvant treatment. However, the main determinants for management plan of these patients rely heavily on accurate staging through histopathological examination (HPE). A reliable standard HPE protocol will be a significant impact in determining best surgical outcome. We evaluate surgeons' intra-operative judgment and the quality of resected specimens in the treatment of colorectal cancers. To quantify the quality of surgery by applying standard HPE protocol in colorectal cancer specimens and to assess the use of new format for pathological reporting in Colorectal Cancer using a formulated standard proforma. We perform a prospective observation of all colorectal cancer patients who underwent surgical resection over 8 month duration. Surgeons are required to make self-assessment about completion of tumor excision and possible lymph nodes or adjacent organ involvement while all pathologists followed standard reporting protocol for examination of the specimens. We evaluate the accuracy of surgeons judgment against HPE. The study involved 44 colorectal cancers comprising of 23 male and 21 female patients. The majority of these patients were Malay (50%) followed by Chinese (43%) and Indian (7%). The main presenting symptoms were bleeding (32%), intestinal obstruction (29%) and perforation (7%). Sixteen (36%) patients underwent emergency surgery.Rectal tumor was the commonest (53%) followed by sigmoid colon (22.7%). Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation were given to 8 patients and complete pathological response was observed in 1 (12.5%) of these. The final TNM classification for staging were; stage I (22.7%), stage IIa (18.2%), stage IIb (11.4%), stage IIIa (2.3%), stage IIIb (25%), stage IIIc (13.6%) and stage IV (6.8%).The commonest surgery performed was anterior resection with mesorectal excision (43.2%). Ten patients (22.7%) had laparoscopic surgery with 3 (30%) patients converted to open surgery. The surgeons claimed to have performed a curative resection with complete excision and clear margin in 40 (90%) patients. Of these, only 1 (2.5%) patient had a positive resection margin. Meanwhile, the surgeons reported involvement of resection margins in 4 cases but this was disputed by the HPE in all 4 cases. Lymph nodes involvement was detected intra-operatively in 13 (29.5%) of the cases and all were proven positive for metastases through HPE. On the other hand, of the remaining 31 patients who were reported as no obvious lymphadenopathy by the surgeons, lymph nodes positvity was found in 7 (22.5%) cases. Using standard HPE reporting protocol brings suitable evaluation of surgery in colorectal cancer treatment. Although surgeons' judgment is fairly accurate in predicting margin clearance and complete specimen excision, complete mesocolic and mesorectal excision is of utmost importance since lymph nodes metastatic involvement may not be obvious at surgery.


Auditing surgeons; Standard HPE protocol

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