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AIM: Evaluation of surgery for colorectal cancer (CRC) is necessary to inform clinical decision-making and healthcare policy. The standards of outcome reporting after CRC surgery have not previously been considered. METHOD: Systematic literature searches identified randomized and nonrandomized prospective studies reporting clinical outcomes of CRC surgery. Outcomes were listed verbatim, categorized into broad groups (outcome domains) and examined for a definition (an appropriate textual explanation or a supporting citation). Outcome reporting was considered inconsistent if results of the outcome specified in the methods were not reported. Outcome reporting was compared between randomized and nonrandomized studies. RESULTS: Of 5644 abstracts, 194 articles (34 randomized and 160 nonrandomized studies) were included reporting 766 different clinical outcomes, categorized into seven domains. A mean of 14 ± 8 individual outcomes were reported per study. 'Anastomotic leak', 'overall survival' and 'wound infection' were the three most frequently reported outcomes in 72, 60 and 44 (37.1%, 30.9% and 22.7%) studies, respectively, and no single outcome was reported in every publication. Outcome definitions were significantly more often provided in randomized studies than in nonrandomized studies (19.0% vs 14.9%, P = 0.015). One-hundred and twenty-seven (65.5%) papers reported results of all outcomes specified in the methods (randomized studies, n = 21, 61.5%; nonrandomized studies, n = 106, 66.2%; P = 0.617). CONCLUSION: Outcome reporting in CRC surgery lacks consistency and method. Improved standards of outcome measurement are recommended to permit data synthesis and transparent cross-study comparisons.

Original publication




Journal article


Colorectal dis

Publication Date





e548 - e560


Colorectal cancer, outcome reporting, surgery, Colorectal Neoplasms, Humans, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Neoplasm, Residual, Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care), Postoperative Complications, Research Report