The surgical management of rectal cancer has changed substantially over the past decade. There are limited data on the long-term outcome of implementing systematic management strategies.
Survival of a national cohort of patients treated surgically for colonic and rectal cancer over a 10-year interval was analysed. All 31 158 patients in Norway diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the colon and rectum between 1994 and 2003 were identified from the Cancer Registry of Norway and the Norwegian Rectal Cancer Registry. Changes in 5-year relative survival were compared by age, stage and tumour location during the early and late years.
The study population included 19 053 patients who had a curative resection. The relative 5-year survival rate significantly improved for both colonic cancer (73·8 versus 78·0 per cent; P