The screening of 12 or more lymph nodes following colon cancer surgery — a quality assurance practice recommended by the National Quality Forum (NQF), the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) — does not appear to improve the odds of 5-year cancer survival. The finding is the result of recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The practice of removing and inspecting 12 or more lymph nodes for cancerous cells following colorectal cancer surgery has recently gained in popularity as an indicator of hospital quality and quality of cancer care. An extensive, retroactive evaluation of more than 30,000 cases of colon cancer surgery, which accounted for a multitude of complicating variables, has determined that the practice doesn’t correllate to a higher survival rate after 5 years, however.
This particular study was limited to patients over 65 years of age, but stratified analysis of the findings did not indicate that the age of patients was a significant factor. Researchers also warn that recommendations to examine a dozen or more lymph nodes for each surgery may carry unintended consequences related to hospital workplace injuries, as the use of de-fatting solutions used to analyze the lymph nodes exposes lab personnel in the hospital to higher levels of toxic substances.
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