Surgery has a key role for quality assurance of colorectal cancer screening programs: impact of the third level multidisciplinary team on lymph nodal staging

Francesco Bianco, Silvia De Franciscis, Andrea Belli, Maria Di Lena, Antonio Avallone, Maria Antonia Bianco, Sabato Di Marzo, Letizia Gigli, Gianluca Rotondano, Silvana Russo Spena, Fabiana Tatangelo, Alfonso Tempesta, Giovanni Maria Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: From 2011 to 2013 in the area of the Naples 3 public health district (ASL-NA3), a colorectal cancer screening program (CCSP) was developed. In order to stress the need of quality assurance procedures for surgery and pathology, a third level oncologic pathway was added and set up at a referral colorectal cancer center (RC). Lymph nodal (LN) harvesting, as a process indicator, and nodal positivity were adopted for an interim analysis. Methods: The program was implemented by a series of audit meetings and a double type of multidisciplinary team (MDT): “horizontal” and “vertical.” Three hundred and forty colorectal cancer (CRC) patients underwent surgery: 119 chose to be operated at the RC (Gr In), 65 were operated at 22 district hospitals (DH) (Gr Out), and 156 symptomatic not screened patients were operated at the RC (Gr Sym). Results: Statistical analysis revealed differences between Gr In and Gr Out colon groups both for LN harvesting (median of 26 and 11, respectively, P = 0.0001), and for nodal positivity after the first screening round (34.78 and 19.45 %, respectively, P = 0.0169). Results were all the more significant in a subset analysis on early T stage colon subgroups (In vs Out) both for LN harvesting (P <0.0001) and nodal positivity (P <0.0001). Conclusion: xSignificant differences between RC and DHs were found, particularly for early-stage CRC patients. LN harvesting should be considered as a surrogate marker of quality assurance for at least screening hospitals for “minimum best” standard of care. This should lead to set up a third level in any CCSP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-592
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016



  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Lymph nodal harvesting
  • Multidisciplinary team
  • Quality assurance
  • Referral centre
  • Third level surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

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