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Emergency surgery for obstructing and perforated colon cancer: patterns of recurrence and prognostic factors

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The aim of this study was to analyze the incidence, patterns and prognostic factors of recurrence in patients with complicated colon cancer who had emergency surgery within 24 h of admission.


A retrospective observational study was performed on patients with obstructing or perforated colon cancer having resection with curative intent between 1996 and 2014 at a single center. Data were obtained from a prospectively maintained database. Patients who had rectal cancer, iatrogenic endoscopic perforation, stage IV disease, palliative surgery, a colonic stent or decompressive colostomy were excluded.


The study included 393 patients. Obstruction was observed in 320 patients (81.4%) and perforation in 73 (18.6%). Hartmann’s procedure was more frequently performed by general surgeons (7.5% vs 23.3%; p = 0.023). 30-day postoperative mortality was 13.5% (53/393), including 47 (14.7%) obstructed and 6 (8.2%) perforated patients. Postoperative complications (Clavien–Dindo III–IV) occurred in 87 patients (22.1%), including 68 (21.2%) of obstructed and 19 (26.0%) of perforated patients. Anastomotic dehiscence was diagnosed in 52 of 329 (15.8%) patients with primary anastomosis and was higher in the obstructing group than in the perforated group (17.4% vs 7.6%). There was a significantly higher anastomotic dehiscence rate after procedures performed by general surgeons when compared with those performed by colorectal surgeons (10.3% vs 21.3%; p = 0.005; OR 2.81, 95% CI 1.4–5.9). With a median follow-up of 6 years, the recurrence rate was 30.1% (67.4% distant, 22.8% local, 9.8% both). Overall and cancer-related survivals were 68.7% and 77.8%, respectively. The presence of positive nodes, male gender, anastomotic dehiscence and diffuse peritonitis were independent predictors for local recurrence while type of surgeon (general) was an independent factor for distant recurrence.


Male gender, diffuse peritonitis, positive lymph nodes, type of surgeon and postoperative anastomotic dehiscence significantly influence recurrence of colorectal cancer in this series.

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The authors thank Mr. Bernat Miguel, Statistician and Data Manager of the Colorectal Unit, University Hospital of Bellvitge and IDIBELL, for the statistical analysis.


There are no funding sources for the present observational study.

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Correspondence to Sebastiano Biondo.

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Biondo, S., Gálvez, A., Ramírez, E. et al. Emergency surgery for obstructing and perforated colon cancer: patterns of recurrence and prognostic factors. Tech Coloproctol 23, 1141–1161 (2019).

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