Oncological Outcomes and Hospital Costs of the Treatment in Patients With Rectal Cancer: Watch-and-Wait Policy and Standard Surgical Treatment

Britt J. P. Hupkens*, Stephanie O. Breukink, Jan H. M. B. Stoot, Renee E. Toebes, Marit E. van der Sande, Jarno Melenhorst, Geerard L. Beets, Carmen D. Dirksen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the costs of the current treatment strategy in locally advanced rectal cancer, in which patients with a clinical complete response after chemoradiotherapy are treated in a watch-and-wait policy.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to present the oncological outcome and hospital costs of patients with a complete response after chemoradiotherapy (watch-and-wait policy) and patients with an incomplete response after chemoradiotherapy (total mesorectal excision).

DESIGN: This was a cohort study.

SETTINGS: This study was conducted at an academic and a nonacademic hospital.

PATIENTS: Patients with locally advanced rectal cancer received either a watch-and-wait policy or total mesorectal excision depending on their clinical response to chemoradiotherapy.

INTERVENTIONS: Watch-and-wait policy and total mesorectal excision were the treatments applied.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcomes measured were overall, local recurrence-free, and distant metastasis-free survival and hospital costs over a 2-year follow-up period.

RESULTS: A total of 292 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer were included. Mean age was 65.1 years, and 64.7% were men. One hundred five patients were included in the watch-and-wait subgroup, and 187 patients were in the total mesorectal excision subgroup. Both subgroups showed good oncological outcomes. Hospital costs consisted of 5 categories: costs of primary surgery, costs of adjuvant chemotherapy, costs of examinations, costs of additional surgery, and costs of treatment of regrowth/metastasis. The mean costs per patient were euro6713 (watch-and-wait subgroup) and euro17,108 (total mesorectal excision subgroup) over the first 2 years.

LIMITATIONS: This study was limited by the following: costs were only from a hospital perspective, follow-up was 2 years, the study was retrospective in part, and there was no comparative study.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall survival was good in both subgroups and comparable to literature. The mean costs per patient differ between the watch-and-wait subgroup (euro6713) and the total mesorectal excision subgroup (euro17,108). No comparison between the groups could be made. Based on the results of this study, the current strategy, where patients with a clinical complete response are treated in a watch-and-wait policy, and patients with an incomplete response are treated with total mesorectal excision, is likely to be (cost)saving. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/B177..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-605
Number of pages8
JournalDiseases of the Colon & Rectum
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Event13th Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) - Nice, France
Duration: 26 Sep 201828 Sep 2018
Conference number: 13


  • Cost saving
  • Hospital costs
  • Oncological outcome
  • Rectal cancer
  • Total mesorectal excision
  • Watch-and-wait policy

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