Effective management of rectal cancer relies on accurate pre-operative assessment, surgical technical excellence and integrated neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemo and/or radiotherapy. The aim of this study was to examine the management of rectal cancer in Ireland. This was a retrospective chart review. All cases of rectal cancer (15 cm or less from the anal verge) diagnosed in Ireland in the year 2007 were included in the audit. In total data for 585 patients were included, under the care of 87 consultant surgeons operating in 48 hospitals. Only data recorded in medical charts were included. Pre-operative investigations were less utilised than recommended by current guidelines and consequently many cancers were inadequately staged. In total 52.5% of cases were discussed at a multi-disciplinary meeting. Overall, 88% of the patients had surgery, and the 30-day mortality rate was 1.7%. The quality of post-operative pathology reporting was variable, with adequacy of total mesorectal excision status unclear or unknown in 74% of cases. Cases were managed in a large number of centres, and in lower volume centres (<5 cases per annum) patients appeared to be less adequately investigated. This study gives a snapshot of recent practice in the management of rectal cancer in Ireland but is of necessity limited as the audit was retrospective and long term outcomes have not been assessed. In 2007 rectal cancer was managed in a large number of centres and best practice was frequently not adhered to. The impending centralisation of cancer services is likely to impact on the management of rectal cancer in Ireland.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland ->