International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 239–245 | Cite as

Trends and outcomes of sphincter-preserving surgery for rectal cancer: a national cancer database study

  • Faisal Shahjehan
  • Pashtoon M. Kasi
  • Elizabeth Habermann
  • Courtney N. Day
  • Dorin T. Colibaseanu
  • Kellie L. Mathis
  • David W. Larson
  • Amit MercheaEmail author
Original Article



Previous studies have shown that sphincter-preserving surgery is associated with better quality of life in postsurgical rectal cancer patients. However, the factors predicting the likelihood of undergoing sphincter-preserving surgery have not been well-described. The aim of this study was to report the factors that determined the likelihood of undergoing sphincter-preserving surgery.


Characteristics of 24,018 rectal cancer patients undergoing sphincter-preserving surgery and abdominoperineal resection diagnosed from 2008 to 2012 from the National Cancer Database were investigated retrospectively for rate, pattern, and differences in mortality. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios for assessing mortality. Odds ratios were calculated using logistic regressions models for outcome sphincter-preserving surgery.


Eighteen thousand four hundred fifty-two (77%) patients had sphincter-preserving surgery. Majority of sphincter-preserving surgery patients were aged < 70 (74%), had private insurance (52%), and got treatment at a comprehensive community cancer program (54%). Multivariable analysis showed that patients with age ≥ 70 (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.80–0.95), male gender (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.84–0.96), having Medicare (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.76–0.90), Medicaid (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.63–0.81), and poorly differentiated grade (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.71–0.85) were less likely to undergo sphincter-preserving surgery. Multivariable analysis showed that patients having abdominoperineal resection have higher likelihood of mortality than sphincter-preserving surgery (HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.16–1.36).


We were able to identify several patient and tumor-related factors impacting the likelihood of undergoing sphincter-preserving surgery. Patients undergoing non-sphincter sparing surgery had a higher mortality that sphincter preservation.


Sphincter-preserving surgery SPS Rectal cancer NCDB Abdominoperineal resection 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Hematology and OncologyMayo ClinicJacksonvilleUSA
  2. 2.Division of Colon and Rectal SurgeryMayo ClinicJacksonvilleUSA
  3. 3.The Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care DeliveryMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health Science ResearchMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  5. 5.Division of Colon and Rectal SurgeryMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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