In a strategy aimed to improve perioperative and operative management of rectal cancer in British Columbia (BC), a series of educational events were provided for BC surgeons, radiation oncologists, and pathologists including teaching on the use of preoperative radiation, surgical technique with total mesorectal excision (TME), and pathology reporting. Seminars were offered during 2002 and 2003 each over 2 days with documented attendance from 30 hospitals in the province. We wished to determine whether frequency of preoperative radiation and TME surgery changed on a population level after the rectal cancer education courses in 2002 and 2003.
All patients were referred to the BC Cancer Agency, the only center for radiation in BC. Treatments and data were abstracted from the Colorectal Cancer Outcomes Unit database. Patients with resected stage I to III rectal cancer were included who were diagnosed before (2000-2001) and after (2004) the education courses. We used changes from 2000 to 2001 to reflect effects of sporadic continued medical education (CME) compared with effects of formal systematic provincial education courses (changes from 2001 to 2004).
A total of 778 eligible patients were included from 2000 (n = 264), 2001 (n = 202), and 2004 (n = 312). The percentage of stage III patients was similar in the 3 time periods. The use of preoperative radiation therapy increased significantly over time, 43% (114/264), 56% (113/202), and 86% (268/312) (P