Healthcare Policy and Outcomes

Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 20, Issue 12, pp 3740-3746

First online:

Uptake and Patient Outcomes of Laparoscopic Colon and Rectal Cancer Surgery in a Publicly Funded System and Following Financial Incentives

  • Marko SimunovicAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, McMaster UniversityEscarpment Cancer Research Institute, Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University Email author 
  • , Nancy N. BaxterAffiliated withDivision of General Surgery, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of TorontoInstitute for Clinical Evaluative SciencesLi Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto
  • , Rinku SutradharAffiliated withInstitute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
  • , Ning LiuAffiliated withInstitute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
  • , Margherita CadedduAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, McMaster University
  • , David UrbachAffiliated withInstitute for Clinical Evaluative SciencesDivision of Clinical Decision-making & Health Care, Toronto General Research Institute, Toronto General Hospital

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To assess patterns of uptake and outcomes of laparoscopic colon and rectal cancer surgery in Ontario, and the potential influence of surgical fee incentives instituted on October 1, 2005.


We used Ontario administrative databases from fiscal years 2002 to 2009. Study outcomes were uptake rates of laparoscopic surgery, hospital length of stay, 30-day operative mortality, cancer-specific survival, and overall survival. The main descriptor for multivariable regression models was a 5 % increase in rate of laparoscopic colon cancer surgery in the previous year.


The annual rate of laparoscopic colon and rectal cancer surgery, respectively, rose from 8.7 to 38.9 % and from 4.8 to 19.6 %. The greatest increase in rate of laparoscopic colon surgery occurred shortly after October 1, 2005. For each 5 % increase in rate of laparoscopic surgery, the odds of 30-day mortality was 1.0 [95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.96–1.01, p = 0.264], the hazard of cancer-specific survival was 1.0 (95 % CI 0.97–1.00, p = 0.139), the hazard of overall survival was 1.0 (95 % CI 0.98–1.00, p = 0.051), and length of hospital stay was lower (estimate = −0.10, 95 % CI −0.14 to −0.06, p < 0.001).


In Ontario by the year 2009, 39 % of colon and 20 % of rectal cancer surgery was provided laparoscopically. Increased rates were associated with a minimal decrease in hospital length of stay and no changes in 30-day mortality, cancer-specific survival, or overall survival. Financial incentives were likely responsible for the marked increase in laparoscopic colon cancer surgery observed after October 1, 2005.