Do specific operative approaches and insurance status impact timely access to colorectal cancer care?

Brian D. Lo, George Q. Zhang, Miloslawa Stem, Rebecca Sahyoun, Jonathan E. Efron, Bashar Safar, Chady Atallah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: The increased use of minimally invasive surgery in the management of colorectal cancer has led to a renewed focus on how certain factors, such as insurance status, impact the equitable distribution of both laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Our goal was to analyze surgical wait times between robotic, laparoscopic, and open approaches, and to determine whether insurance status impacts timely access to treatment. Methods: After IRB approval, adult patients from the National Cancer Database with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer were identified (2010–2016). Patients who underwent radiation therapy, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, had wait times of 0 days from diagnosis to surgery, or had metastatic disease were excluded. Primary outcomes were days from cancer diagnosis to surgery and days from surgery to adjuvant chemotherapy. Multivariable Poisson regression analysis was performed. Results: Among 324,784 patients, 5.9% underwent robotic, 47.5% laparoscopic, and 46.7% open surgery. Patients undergoing robotic surgery incurred the longest wait times from diagnosis to surgery (29.5 days [robotic] vs. 21.7 [laparoscopic] vs. 17.2 [open], p < 0.001), but the shortest wait times from surgery to adjuvant chemotherapy (48.9 days [robotic] vs. 49.9 [laparoscopic] vs. 54.8 [open], p < 0.001). On adjusted analysis, robotic surgery was associated with a 1.46 × longer wait time to surgery (IRR 1.462, 95% CI 1.458–1.467, p < 0.001), but decreased wait time to adjuvant chemotherapy (IRR 0.909, 95% CI 0.905–0.913, p < 0.001) compared to an open approach. Private insurance was associated with decreased wait times to surgery (IRR 0.966, 95% CI 0.962–0.969, p < 0.001) and adjuvant chemotherapy (IRR 0.862, 95% CI 0.858–0.865, p < 0.001) compared to Medicaid. Conclusion: Though patients undergoing robotic surgery experienced delays from diagnosis to surgery, they tended to initiate adjuvant chemotherapy sooner compared to those undergoing open or laparoscopic approaches. Private insurance was independently associated not only with access to robotic surgery, but also shorter wait times during all stages of treatment. Graphic Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3774-3786
Number of pages13
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Insurance
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Robotic surgical procedures
  • Treatment delay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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