The EURECCA (European Registration of Cancer Care) consortium is currently formed by nine independently founded national colorectal audit registrations, of which most already run for many years. The cumulative experience of EURECCA’s participants could be used to identify a ‘core dataset’ that covers all important aspects needed for high quality auditing and at the same time lacking needless data items that only consumes administrative effort. The aim of this study is to compare the data items used by the nine registries participating in EURECCA to identify a core dataset and explore options for future research.
All colorectal outcome registrations participating in the EURECCA project were asked to supply a list with all the data items they score. Items were scored ‘present’ if they appeared literally in a registration or in case they could be calculated using other items in the same registration. The definition of a ‘shared data item’ was that at least eight of the nine participating registries scored the item.
The number of registered data items varied between 254 (Belgium) and 83 (Norway). Among the 45 variables were patient data, data about preoperative staging, surgical treatment, pre- or postoperative radio- and/or chemotherapy, and follow-up. Items about tumour recurrence or quality of life were scored too little to become shared data items.
A total of 45 items were collected by 8 or more of the participating registries and subsequently met the criteria for a shared data item.
In 2006, colorectal cancer caused over 200,000 deaths in Europe, making it the second most common cause of cancer related death, while its incidence is still increasing.
1In developing countries, the rise in incidence is even higher, while they have the worst outcome.
- Ferlay J.
- Autier P.
- Boniol M.
- Heanue M.
- Colombet M.
- Boyle P.
Estimates of the cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2006.
Ann Oncol. 2007; 18: 581-592
- Berrino F.
- De Angelis R.
- Sant M.
- et al.
Survival for eight major cancers and all cancers combined for European adults diagnosed in 1995–99: results of the EUROCARE-4 study.
Lancet Oncol. 2007; 8: 773-783
- Center M.M.
- Jemal A.
- Ward E.
International trends in colorectal cancer incidence rates.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009; 18: 1688-1694
4Although surgery is the cornerstone for curative treatment, there is great variability in outcomes among surgeons and institutions.
- Verdecchia A.
- Guzzinati S.
- Francisci S.
- et al.
Survival trends in European cancer patients diagnosed from 1988 to 1999.
Eur J Cancer. 2009; 45: 1042-1066
Quality of health care has a high priority on the political agenda of most European countries. Universal health care improvement initiatives, such as the development of a preoperative surgical checklist by the World Health Organization, reflect the contemporary global commitment to prioritizing high quality care within surgery.
- Haynes A.B.
- Weiser T.G.
- Berry W.R.
- et al.
A surgical safety checklist to reduce morbidity and mortality in a global population.
N Engl J Med. 2009; 360: 491-499
Surgical quality assurance program, also called surgical audit, is a quality instrument that collects detailed clinical data from different health care providers, which can be adjusted for baseline risk and subsequently fed back to individual hospitals or surgeons. Major improvements have been achieved with national audits.
- Wibe A.
- Moller B.
- Norstein J.
- et al.
A national strategic change in treatment policy for rectal cancer-implementation of total mesorectal excision as routine treatment in Norway. A national audit.
Dis Colon Rectum. 2002; 45: 857-866
- Wibe A.
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- et al.
Nationwide quality assurance of rectal cancer treatment.
Colorectal Dis. 2006; 8: 224-229
8However, although all the national audits achieved excellent results, differences in treatment and outcome remain between European countries and cannot be easily explained.
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- et al.
The Swedish Rectal Cancer Registry.
Br J Surg. 2007; 94: 1285-1292
9To reduce those differences by identifying and spreading best practice, the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) initiated an international, multidisciplinary, outcome-based quality improvement program: European Registration of Cancer Care (EURECCA). The goal is to create a multidisciplinary European registration structure for patient, tumour, and treatment characteristics linked to outcome registration. Many important topics that are unanswered by randomised controlled trials could be researched using the data of EURECCA project. The EURECCA project makes use of existing national audit registrations and started with colorectal cancer, but in the future other solid tumour types, such as breast cancer, gastric cancer, and oesophageal cancer, will follow.
- van Gijn W.
- Wouters M.W.
- Peeters K.C.
- van de Velde C.J.
Nationwide outcome registrations to improve quality of care in rectal surgery. An initiative of the European Society of Surgical Oncology.
J Surg Oncol. 2009; 99: 491-496
Unfortunately, clinical auditing comes with a price. Despite rapid development in medical information technology, clinical auditing still is a considerable administrative burden from medical professionals. A beautifully designed but very detailed registry that turns out to be too time consuming to complete is worthless. Therefore, it is important only to register those items that really matter. When a new audit is set up, dedicated professionals might be tempted to develop a very complete, although unnecessary large dataset. Instead of reinventing the wheel, a ‘core dataset’ distilled from existing audits could save much energy.
The EURECCA consortium is currently formed by nine independently founded national colorectal audit registrations, most of whom already run for many years. The cumulative experience of EURECCA’s participants could be used to identify a ‘core dataset’ that covers all important aspects needed for high quality auditing and at the same time lacking needless data items that only consumes administrative effort.
Even more important than being used as a template for other audits, an EURECCA core set will give the consortium insight in what research can be performed in the near future.
The objective of this study is to compare the data items used by the nine registries participating in EURECCA to identify a core dataset and explore options for future research within the EURECCA project.
All colorectal outcome registrations participating in the EURECCA project were asked to supply a list with all the data items they score. These data items were entered in a database and assigned to a main category and a subcategory. Items were scored ‘present’ if they appeared literally in a registration or in case they could be calculated using other items in the same registration. Secondly, the type of data (categorical, number, yes/no, free text) was scored. Software used for data input and analyses was SPSS 17 (PASW, Chicago). After all the items were entered in the database, a report was sent back to the national data managers to check for errors or incompleteness’. The corrected lists were returned and processed in the database. In the corrected and completed database, shared data items between the registries were identified as well as resemblances in data type and categories. The definition of a ‘shared data-item’ was that only one registry was allowed not to score the item, so at least eight of the nine participating registries scored the item.
All nine participating EURECCA registries (Table 1) supplied lists with all recorded data items, which were entered into a database and checked for accuracy as described in the methods section. The number of registered data items varied between 254 (Belgium) and 83 (Norway) (Fig. 1). A total of 45 items were collected by 8 or more of the participating registries and subsequently met the criteria for a shared data-item (Table 2). Among the 45 variables were patient data such as date of birth, gender, cancer type and ASA score. Furthermore, variables to score the use of endoscopy, rectal ultrasound, CT or MRI scan for preoperative staging met the shared data item criteria together with cT-stage and cM-stage. Items about the surgical treatment that met the criteria for a shared data item included date of surgery, main procedure, open or laparoscopic, the creation of an anastomosis and/or stoma and the important postoperative complication; anastomotic leakage. Eight or more out of the nine participating registries scored pTNM stage, radicality and distance of the tumour to the surgical resection plane. Registrations of administered pre- or postoperative radio- and or chemotherapy were also shared data items. Regarding follow-up, death status and date of death were shared data items. Items about tumour recurrence or quality of life were scored too little to become shared data items.
Table 1The EURECCA consortium.
|Name||Country||Number of included patients (mid 2011)|
|Dutch Surgical Colorectal Audit (DSCA)||The Netherlands||25,000|
|International Quality Assurance in Colorectal Carcinoma||Germany|
|Norwegian Colorectal Cancer Project||Norway||26,500|
|Swedish Colorectal Cancer Registry||Sweden||41,000|
|Danish Colorectal Cancer Database||Denmark||36,500|
|National Bowel Cancer Audit Program (NBOCAP)||United Kingdom||200,000|
|Project on cancer of the Rectum (PROCARE)||Belgium||4500|
|Spanish TME project||Spain||7500|
|Study group for Therapies Of Rectal Malignancies (STORM)||Italy||1500|
Table 2Data items shared by ≥8/9 registrations.
|Patient: administrative data||Patient number|
|Cancer type (rectal, colon)|
|Neo-adjuvant therapy (type: none, RT, CT, RCT)|
|Adjuvant therapy (type: none, RT, CT, RCT)|
|Date of birth|
|Radiotherapy: type (preop/postop) and duration (long/short course)|
|Patient: preoperative medical condition||ASA score|
|Preop staging: Colonoscopy, location tumour, biopsy, complications||Endoscopy: lower limit from anal verge (cm)|
|Preop staging: Imaging||CT scan|
|MRI – cT-stage|
|Preop staging: Final preop staging, MDT, other||cM Clinical metastases: y/n|
|Final preop diagnosis: cT-stage|
|Final preop diagnosis: cM-stage|
|Neo-adjuvant treatment: Type, technique, dose, etc||Preoperative chemotherapy|
|Operation: Type, technique, anastomosis, stoma, etc||Operation: y/n|
|Main procedure (ICD10 or translatable into)|
|Surgery: stoma (none, decompressive, permanent, loop, endtype)|
|Surgical access for resection: (laparotomy/laparoscopy/converted laparoscopy/local excision)|
|Resection of adjacent organ|
|Operation: Complications||Postoperative anastomotic leakage|
|Postop staging: Pathology, final diagnosis||Primary diagnosis (ICD10)|
|Tumour stage (TNM 6th edition)|
|Lymph nodes with metastases|
|Lymph nodes in total|
|Distance to surgical resection plane (CRM)|
|Radicality operation (R0, R1, R2)|
|Location distant metastases (liver, lung, peritoneum, omentum, ovary, lymp node)|
|Adjuvant treatment: RT, CT, RCT, type, technique, dose, etc||Postoperative chemotherapy|
|Follow-up: Date, Death status, Oncological status||Death/alive|
|Date of death|
Fig. 1 shows the number of recorded data items scored by all nine EURECCA participants on the Y axis and the number of years since first registration on the X axis. There was no relation between time since first registration and the number of scored data items.
After comparing the datasets of EURECCA’s nine participating registries, a list of 45 data items could be identified as a shared, core dataset. A strong variation between the number of data items collected by different registries was found, ranging between 83 by Norway and 254 by Belgium. Despite the fact that the oldest registry (Norway) used the fewest data items, there was no relation between time since first registration and slimness of the dataset.
Although many important items can be mentioned that are not listed in the core dataset, the most vital variables about patient, disease, preoperative staging, operation, pathology and survival are all part of the core dataset. Furthermore, data about pre- and postoperative adjuvant treatment are also part of the core dataset.
Worldwide and also within Europe, there are many differences in the use of (neo)adjuvant treatment for cancer. For instance, for rectal cancer with an unthreatened circumferential resection margin, many patients will receive short term (5 × 5 Gy) preoperative radiotherapy while others will get long course radiochemotherapy and sometimes this is administered postoperatively. Using the shared data items in combination with the impressive and unprecedented amount of patients supplied by EURECCA, an inventory about differences in (neo)adjuvant treatment can be made and linked to other data such as anastomotic leakage, surgical radicality and long term survival. The EURECCA core dataset offers enough patient data to perform statistical corrections for patient and tumour factors, necessary for a fair comparison between different treatments.
While the share of elderly in the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing every year, elderly are remarkably enough excluded from most clinical trials concerning colorectal cancer. Again, the extensive data of EURECCA’s core dataset should be able to answer vital questions about the optimal treatment for elderly. Differences in treatment can be identified as well as differences in first presentation of disease, whether this is tumour stage, age, gender or incidence of a disease.
In conclusion, a valuable core data set is identified. This study shows a lean and easy to register core dataset that can help starting clinical audits setting up their database and help minimize administrative burden for existing audits. Most importantly, vital research questions will be answered in the near future using the power of EURECCA’s merged data.
This work was carried out with support of ECCO and ESSO.
Role of the funding source
No role of the funding source to this manuscript.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors have no conflict of interest.
- Estimates of the cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2006.Ann Oncol. 2007; 18: 581-592
- Survival for eight major cancers and all cancers combined for European adults diagnosed in 1995–99: results of the EUROCARE-4 study.Lancet Oncol. 2007; 8: 773-783
- International trends in colorectal cancer incidence rates.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009; 18: 1688-1694
- Survival trends in European cancer patients diagnosed from 1988 to 1999.Eur J Cancer. 2009; 45: 1042-1066
- A surgical safety checklist to reduce morbidity and mortality in a global population.N Engl J Med. 2009; 360: 491-499
- A national strategic change in treatment policy for rectal cancer-implementation of total mesorectal excision as routine treatment in Norway. A national audit.Dis Colon Rectum. 2002; 45: 857-866
- Nationwide quality assurance of rectal cancer treatment.Colorectal Dis. 2006; 8: 224-229
- The Swedish Rectal Cancer Registry.Br J Surg. 2007; 94: 1285-1292
- Nationwide outcome registrations to improve quality of care in rectal surgery. An initiative of the European Society of Surgical Oncology.J Surg Oncol. 2009; 99: 491-496
Accepted: January 5, 2012
© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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