Surgeon Volume Influences Outcomes in Esophageal Cancer

Patients who undergo surgery for esophageal cancer have a much higher chance of long-term survival if the surgeon has performed the operation many times before, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The esophagus is a muscular tube that food and liquids pass through on their on their way to the stomach. Each year in the United States, more than 17,000 people are diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and more than 15,000 die of the disease.

Treatment of esophageal cancer often involves esophagectomy, which is surgical removal of the entire esophagus. Although surgery is regarded as the only curative option for resectable esophageal cancer, the procedure carries substantial risks and only one-third of patients survive for five or more years afterward. Some research has indicated that hospital and surgeon volume may impact short-term survival, but few studies have examined the relationship between surgeon volume and long-term survival.

In the most comprehensive study to date on the topic, researchers conducted a nationwide Swedish population-based cohort study of 1,335 patients with esophageal cancer who underwent esophageal resection between 1987 and 2005—and included follow-up until February 2011. Researchers analyzed the relationship between annual hospital volume, annual surgeon volume, cumulative surgeon volume, and risk of mortality.

While there appeared to be no relationship between hospital volume and long-term survival, there was an association with surgeon volume and long-term survival. In fact, patients who underwent surgery with surgeons who performed a high volume of the surgery (both annually and in total) had better outcomes—a 22 percent lower long-term mortality compared with patients who were operated on by surgeons with a low annual and total operation volume.

The researchers concluded that surgeon volume can influence the long-term survival of patients and they recommend that this surgical procedure should be concentrated among fewer surgeons.



Derogar M, Sadr-Azodi O, Johar A, et al. Hospital and surgeon bolume in relation to survival after esophageal cancer surgery in a population-based study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Published early online: January 7, 2013. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.46.1517


Knowledge is power. Are you facing a new diagnosis, recurrence, living with metastatic disease, or supporting a loved one through their cancer journey?
Sign up for monthly newsletters on Esophageal Cancer here.
Get the facts about Esophageal Cancer here.
Join ongoing discussions with other individuals affected by esophageal cancer in the CancerConnect private online esophageal cancer community here.

Copyright © 2016 CancerConnect. All Rights Reserved.


More cancer news.

CancerConnect Cancer Commuity & Discussions

Cancer Types

Sign up for the CancerConnect newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and receive the latest news and updates about specific types of cancer.

  Close |  Please don't show me this again

Facebook Twitter RSS