Outcomes from elective colorectal cancer surgery during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

COVIDSurg Collaborative

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: This study aimed to describe the change in surgical practice and the impact of SARS‐CoV‐2 on mortality after surgical resection of colorectal cancer during the initial phases of the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemic. 
Method: This was an international cohort study of patients undergoing elective resection of colon or rectal cancer without preoperative suspicion of SARS‐CoV‐2. Centres entered data from their first recorded case of COVID‐19 until 19 April 2020. The primary outcome was 30‐day mortality. Secondary outcomes included anastomotic leak, postoperative SARS‐CoV‐2 and a comparison with prepandemic European Society of Coloproctology cohort data. 
Results: From 2073 patients in 40 countries, 1.3% (27/2073) had a defunctioning stoma and 3.0% (63/2073) had an end stoma instead of an anastomosis only. Thirty‐day mortality was 1.8% (38/2073), the incidence of postoperative SARS‐CoV‐2 was 3.8% (78/2073) and the anastomotic leak rate was 4.9% (86/1738). Mortality was lowest in patients without a leak or SARS‐CoV‐2 (14/1601, 0.9%) and highest in patients with both a leak and SARS‐CoV‐2 (5/13, 38.5%). Mortality was independently associated with anastomotic leak (adjusted odds ratio 6.01, 95% confidence interval 2.58–14.06), postoperative SARS‐CoV‐2 (16.90, 7.86–36.38), male sex (2.46, 1.01–5.93), age >70 years (2.87, 1.32–6.20) and advanced cancer stage (3.43, 1.16–10.21). Compared with prepandemic data, there were fewer anastomotic leaks (4.9% versus 7.7%) and an overall shorter length of stay (6 versus 7 days) but higher mortality (1.7% versus 1.1%). 
Conclusion: Surgeons need to further mitigate against both SARS‐CoV‐2 and anastomotic leak when offering surgery during current and future COVID‐19 waves based on patient, operative and organizational risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-749
Number of pages18
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number3
Early online date15 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • cancer
  • colon cancer
  • pandemic
  • rectal cancer
  • surgery
  • surgical oncology

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