The findings suggest that, in the USA, the postoperative mortality gap between high- and low-volume hospitals has narrowed in the last decade.
Busiest centers had a post-op mortality rate of 3.5 per cent
They show that the busiest centers had a mortality rate of 3.5 per cent - compared with a 5.5 per cent rate in low-volume centers, a two-percentage-point difference. Earlier research has found variations of up to 15 percentage points.
Researchers studied Medicare records of 28,000 patients aged over 65 years for the period between 1991 and 1996.
Researcher Dr Deborah Schrag, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA, said, "The small survival differences we observed should reassure patients who are trying to decide where to have surgery, especially if they have easy access to a hospital that does a large volume of colon cancer surgery.
"However, patients should weigh this modest benefit against the advantages of having surgery performed at a familiar hospital in their own community."
The researchers said that more work needed to be done to uncover the factors that lie behind the variations between hospitals.
The study examined rates of chemotherapy use - as a possible explanation of variations - but could find no difference between hospitals.
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com