Whether or not a patient receives minimally-invasive colon cancer surgery may depend on where he or she lives.
According to a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Study, in certain geographical regions of the U.S., about two-thirds of patients received a minimally-invasive laparoscopic colectomy to remove part of the colon as part of non-metastic colon cancer treatment. However, in other regions, the number of patients with access to this procedure was zero.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last week, examines Medicare claims data from 2009-2010. Using this information, researchers analyzed the geographic variation in utilization of the laparoscopic colectomy procedure for patients with colon cancer.
Laparoscopic colectomy is often recommended for patients with colon cancer that has not yet spread to other tissues or organs. Patients who undergo this surgery typically experience less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery than those who undergo more invasive surgical options.
“Although every patient makes his or her own unique decision, most patients offered a laparoscopic colectomy will strongly consider this approach, given the benefits of minimally invasive surgery. Our study shows that these are benefits may not be available to patients who live in certain regions,” said lead author Bradley N. Reames, M.D., M.S., a surgical resident at the University of Michigan in a recent press release.
The researchers concluded that efforts to increase access to this procedure will require the spread of training techniques, new opportunities for learning among surgeons, and enhanced educational resources for patients.
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