Background Surgery for colon or rectal cancer is associated with a high incidence of complications, especially in patients with a low aerobic fitness. Those patients might benefit from a comprehensive preoperative workup including prehabilitation. However, time between diagnosis and treatment is often limited due to current treatment guidelines. To date, it is unclear whether the treatment interval can be extended without compromising survival. Methods A systematic review concerning the association between treatment intervals and survival in patients who underwent elective curative surgery for colon or rectal cancer was performed. A search up to December 2020 was conducted in PubMed, Cinahl and Embase. Original research articles were eligible. Quality assessment was performed using the Downs and Black checklist. Results Eleven observational studies were included (897 947 patients). In colon cancer, treatment intervals that were statistically significant associated with reduced overall survival or cancer-specific survival ranged between > 30 and > 84 days. In rectal cancer, only one out of four studies showed that treatment intervals > 49 days was associated with reduced cancer-specific survival. Conclusions This systematic review identified that studies investigating the association between treatment intervals and survival are heterogeneous with regard to treatment interval definitions, treatment interval time intervals and used outcome measures. These aspects need standardization before a reliable estimate of an optimal treatment interval can be made. In addition, further research should focus on establishing optimal treatment intervals in patients at high risk for postoperative complications, as particularly these patients might benefit from extended diagnosis to treatment intervals permitting comprehensive preoperative preparation.
- LONG-TERM OUTCOMES
- TREATMENT DELAYS