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Consistency Counts

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While overall deaths from colon cancer have dropped in the UK, authorities are concerned about the variation in success rates between hospitals as reported in a recent study, writes the Guardian's James Meikle. The National Health Service is now considering publishing performance ratings for individual cancer surgeons, as they already do for heart surgeons, Meikle says. "Although the study suggests there have been improvements between 1998 (when the national 30-day mortality rate was 6.8 percent) and 2006 (when it was 5.8 percent), the 30-day mortality rate of 6.7 percent over the nine years was poor compared with figures from Scandinavian countries, Canada and the US, which range from 2.7 percent to 5.9 percent," he adds. The study also found that deaths were higher in certain groups like men and the elderly, and that death rates varied between medical centers. Understanding why these variations are occurring is now a priority for UK authorities, Meikle says, especially as 30-day mortality following bowel cancer surgery is considered a key measure of disease progression in patients.

The Scan

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