Background: Regionalization of rectal cancer surgery may lead to worse disease free survival owing to longer travel time to reach a high volume center yet no study has evaluated this relationship at a single high volume center volume center. Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective review of rectal cancer patients undergoing surgery from 2009 to 2019 at a single high volume center. Patients were divided into two groups based on travel time. The primary outcome was disease-free survival (DFS). Additional outcomes included treatment within 60 d of diagnosis, completeness of preoperative staging, and evaluation by a colorectal surgeon prior to initiation of treatment. Results: A lower proportion of patients with long travel time began definitive treatment within 60 d of diagnosis (74.0% versus 84.0%, P= 0.01) or were seen by the treating colorectal surgeon before beginning definitive treatment (74.8% versus 85.4%, P < 0.01). On multivariable logistic regression analysis, patients with long travel time were significantly less likely to begin definitive treatment within 60 d of diagnosis (OR = 0.54; 95% CI = 0.31-0.93) or to be evaluated by a colorectal surgeon prior to initiating treatment (OR = 0.45; 95% CI = 0.25-0.80). There were no significant differences in DFS based on travel time. Conclusions: Although patients with long travel times may be vulnerable to delayed, lower quality rectal cancer care, there is no difference in DFS when definitive surgery is performed at a high volume canter. Ongoing research is needed to identify explanations for delays in treatment to ensure all patients receive the highest quality care.
- High volume center
- Rectal cancer