TUESDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The number of complications
experienced by U.S. patients after major cancer surgery is rising,
but fewer are dying from their operations, a new study reveals.
Researchers analyzed data from 2.5 million patients older than
18 who had major cancer surgery between 1999 and 2009. Procedures
included partial or complete removal of a cancerous colon, bladder,
esophagus, stomach, uterus, lung, pancreas or prostate.
The study found "marked and worrisome increases" in certain
types of complications after surgery.
"Our report shows that while the incidence of preventable
adverse events after major cancer surgery -- blood clots,
infections, respiratory failure and pressure ulcers -- is
increasing, the overall mortality of patients undergoing these
procedures is decreasing in the U.S.," study co-author Dr. Jesse
Sammon, a urologist at Henry Ford Hospital, said in a hospital news
"This paradox is explained in our report by the fact that
physicians are probably getting increasingly better at identifying
these adverse events early and managing them more effectively,
thereby leading to lower mortality rates from adverse events and,
by extension, lower overall mortality rates in the entire
population of patients undergoing these procedures," Sammon
Despite the falling death rates, more needs to be done to
prevent complications after major cancer surgery, the study authors
"Just because physicians have become increasingly effective at
managing these adverse events once they occur does not obviate the
fact that there's still a lot of room for improvement in reducing
the actual occurrence of these adverse events in the first place,"
The findings, published online in
BMJ Open, could lead to changes in national health care
policy and a reallocation of resources, the researchers said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about