BMJ Open. 2020 Oct 8;10(10):e035556. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035556.
OBJECTIVES: Large disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) management and survival have been observed across Europe. Despite recent increases, the survival deficit of Estonian patients with CRC persists, particularly for rectal cancer. The aim of this study was to examine diagnostic, staging and treatment patterns of CRC in Estonia, comparing clinical data from 1997 and 2011.
DESIGN: Nationwide population-based retrospective study.
PARTICIPANTS: All incident cases of colon and rectal cancer diagnosed in 1997 and 2011 identified from the Estonian Cancer Registry. Clinical data gathered from medical records.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Differences in diagnostic, staging and treatment patterns; 5-year relative survival ratios.
RESULTS: The number of colon cancer cases was 337 in 1997 and 498 in 2011; for rectal cancer, the respective numbers were 209 and 349. From 1997 to 2011, large increases were seen in the use of colonoscopy and lung and liver imaging. Radical resection rate increased from 48% to 59%, but emergency surgeries showed a rise from 18% to 26% in colon and from 7% to 14% in rectal cancer. The proportion of radically operated patients with ≥12 lymph nodes examined pathologically increased from 2% to 58% in colon cancer and from 2% to 50% in rectal cancer. The use of neoadjuvant radiotherapy increased from 6% to 39% among stage II and from 20% to 50% among patients with stage III rectal cancer. The use of adjuvant chemotherapy in stage III colon cancer increased from 42% to 63%. The 5-year RSR increased from 50% to 58% in colon cancer and from 37% to 64% in patients with rectal cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Major improvements were seen in the diagnostics, staging and treatment of CRC in Estonia contributing to better outcomes. Increase in emergency surgeries highlights possible shortcomings in timely diagnosis and treatment.