Seven of ten cured of rectal cancer

The results of the TME Project in Norway were presented on Tuesday, 2 July, at the International Cancer Congress in Oslo. Norway is currently the only country in the world to have implemented a National Rectal Cancer Project.

A decade ago, the five-year post-operative survival rate was just slightly higher than half, 55 per cent. For some hospitals, the figures were far worse while others were far better. Tremendous strides forward were made from 1993 to 1999. In 1999, the five-year post-operative survival rate was 71 per cent, a 30 per cent improvement, statistically speaking. It is unusual for a single project to produce such impressive results in the field of cancer treatment.

Strikes 1000 Norwegians a year

Rectal cancer is not a rare form of cancer; it strikes more than 1000 Norwegians a year. The improved treatment results mean that 160 people per year live longer lives, without appreciable distress from cancer.

Hospitals not previously up to standards are no longer operating on rectal cancer. The project keeps hospitals "on the straight and narrow". All hospitals can compare their results with the national average, and no one likes to be last. Moreover, if the local recurrence rate rises, the hospital is notified, and measures are initiated. In brief, training, monitoring and skills maintenance are the policy instruments applied.

"There is still room for improvement", remarks Project Manager Arne Wibe, senior medical officer at St. Olav's Hospital in Trondheim.

Should operate at least 10 patients per year

"We see there are still differences between hospitals. About 20 to 30 per cent of the hospitals report that only five per cent of the patients get new tumours in the pelvic area during the first five years after surgery. On the other hand, some hospitals report a figure of more than 15 per cent. Our goal is to raise quality at the hospitals whose results are still not good e

Contact: Hanna Hanes
Norwegian Cancer Society

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