Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Treatment and Survival: the Experience of Major Public Hospitals in South Australia Over Three Decades

  • Roder, David (Centre for Population Health Research, University of South Australia) ;
  • Karapetis, Christos S (Department of Medical Oncology, Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Flinders University) ;
  • Wattchow, David (Department of Surgery, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders University) ;
  • Moore, James (Colorectal Surgery, Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide) ;
  • Singhal, Nimit (Medical Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide) ;
  • Joshi, Rohit (Medical Oncology, Lyell McEwin Hospital) ;
  • Keefe, Dorothy (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide) ;
  • Fusco, Kellie (Centre for Population Health Research, University of South Australia) ;
  • Buranyi-Trevarton, Dianne (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) ;
  • Sharplin, Greg (Cancer Council South Australia) ;
  • Price, Timothy J (Medical Oncology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Australia)
  • Published : 2015.09.02


Background: Registry data from four major public hospitals indicate trends over three decades from 1980 to 2010 in treatment and survival from colorectal cancer with distant metastases at diagnosis (TNM stage IV). Materials and Methods: Kaplan-Meier product-limit estimates and Cox proportional hazards models for investigating disease-specific survival and multiple logistic regression analyses for indicating first-round treatment trends. Results: Two-year survivals increased from 10% for 1980-84 to 35% for 2005-10 diagnoses. Corresponding increases in five-year survivals were from 3% to 16%. Time-to-event risk of colorectal cancer death approximately halved (hazards ratio: 0.48 (0.40, 0.59) after adjusting for demographic factors, tumour differentiation, and primary sub-site. Survivals were not found to differ by place of residence, suggesting reasonable equity in service provision. About 74% of cases were treated surgically and this proportion increased over time. Proportions having systemic therapy and/or radiotherapy increased from 12% in 1980-84 to 61% for 2005-10. Radiotherapy was more common for rectal than colonic cases (39% vs 7% in 2005-10). Of the cases diagnosed in 2005-10 when less than 70 years of age, the percentage having radiotherapy and/or systemic therapy was 79% for colorectal, 74% for colon and 86% for rectum (&RS)) cancers. Corresponding proportions having: systemic therapies were 75%, 71% and 81% respectively; radiotherapy were 24%, 10% and 46% respectively; and surgery were 75%, 78% and 71% respectively. Based on survey data on uptake of offered therapies, it is likely that of these younger cases, 85% would have been offered systemic treatment and among rectum (&RS) cases, about 63% would have been offered radiotherapy. Conclusions: Pronounced increases in survivals from metastatic colorectal cancer have occurred, in keeping with improved systemic therapies and surgical interventions. Use of radiotherapy and/or systemic therapy has increased markedly and patterns of change accord with clinical guideline recommendations.


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