Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The association of time between diagnosis and major resection with poorer colorectal cancer survival: a retrospective cohort study

Maria Theresa Redaniel1*, Richard M Martin1, Jane M Blazeby12, Julia Wade1 and Mona Jeffreys1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK

2 Bristol Royal Infirmary, Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol BS2 8HW, UK

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:642  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-642

Published: 31 August 2014



Colorectal cancer survival in the UK is lower than in other developed countries, but the association of time interval between diagnosis and treatment on excess mortality remains unclear.


Using data from cancer registries in England, we identified 46,511 patients with localised colorectal cancer between 1996–2009, who were 15 years and older, and who underwent a major surgical resection within 62 days of diagnosis. We used relative survival and excess risk modeling to investigate the association of time between diagnosis and major resection (exposure) with survival (outcome).


Compared to patients who had major resection within 25–38 days of diagnosis, patients with a shorter time interval between diagnosis and resection and those waiting longer for resection had higher excess mortality (Excess Hazards Ratio, EHR <25 vs 25–38 days: 1.50; 95% Confidence Interval, CI: 1.37 to 1.66; EHR 39–62 vs 25–38 days : 1.16; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.29). Excess mortality was associated with age (EHR 75+ vs. 15–44 year olds: 2.62; 95% CI: 2.00 to 3.42) and deprivation (EHR most vs. least deprived: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.12 to 1.45), but time between diagnosis and resection did not explain these differences.


Within 62 days of diagnosis, a U-shaped association of time between diagnosis and major resection with excess mortality for localised colorectal cancer was evident. This indicates a complicated treatment pathway, particularly for patients who had resection earlier than 25 days, and requires further investigation.

Colorectal cancer; Cancer survival; Waiting times; Inequalities; England