Time to surgery (TTS) is of concern to patients diagnosed with cancer and their physicians. Controversy surrounds the impact of TTS on colon cancer survival. There are limited national data evaluating the association; thus, our aim was to estimate the overall survival (OS) impact from increasing TTS for patients with colon cancer.
Using the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), we assessed OS as a function of time between diagnosis and surgery by evaluating intervals encompassing <7, 7 to 30, 31 to 60, 61 to 90, 91 to 120, and 121 to 180 days in length. All patients were diagnosed with nonmetastatic colon cancer and underwent surgery as initial treatment. Our main outcome was OS as a function of time between diagnosis and surgery, after adjusting for patient, demographic, and tumor-related factors using Cox regression models and propensity score-based weighting.
A total of 514,103 patients diagnosed between 1998 and 2012 were included. Individuals having <7, 7 to 30, 31 to 60, 61 to 90, 91 to 120, and 121 to 180 days between diagnosis and surgery comprised 35.4%, 45%, 15.1%, 2.9%, 1%, and 0.6% of the patients, respectively. There was a steady increase in median TTS across the years. On multivariable analysis, TTS >30 days or within the first week independently increased mortality risk. There was a significant increase in mortality with TTS 31 to 60 [hazard ratio (HR) 1.13], 61 to 90 (HR 1.49), <7 (HR 1.56), 91 to 120 (HR 2.28), and 121 to 180 (HR 2.46) compared to surgery performed 7 to 30 days after diagnosis (P < 0.001).
TTS is independently associated with OS and this represents a public health issue that should be addressed at a national level. Although time is required for evaluation before surgery, efforts to reduce TTS should be pursued.