Michael Kanter, MD, CPPS, KPSOM Chair of Clinical Science, is lead author of a groundbreaking study aimed at reducing colon cancer mortality. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in the United States, but the illness is highly preventable with proper screening and can be cured with rapid multimodality treatment.
In “Beyond screening: an interim report and analysis of a multimodal initiative to decrease colon cancer mortality,” published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety on June 8, 2022, Dr. Kanter and a team of researchers reviewed the deaths of 50 Kaiser Permanente Southern California patients due to colon cancer and conducted a literature review of preventable causes of colon cancer mortality to identify evidence-based opportunities to decrease colorectal cancer mortality.
A second mortality review in 2017 helped the team identify a second set of care process advances that could be employed to reduce colon cancer mortality. These improvements include the following:
- Improving follow-up of patients with rectal bleeding and presumed iron deficiency anemia and improving the reliability of post-surgical surveillance for cancer recurrence.
- Decreasing elapsed time from surgery to chemotherapy.
- Increasing surgical referrals for patients with advanced colon cancer.
- Increasing the upper age limit and overall rate of colon cancer screening.
- Increasing vitamin D and aspirin use.
- Monitoring and increasing the adenoma detection rate.
Overall, Dr. Kanter and his fellow researchers found that in implementing these improvements age- and gender-adjusted mortality decreased from 13.8 per 100,000 in 2009-2011 to 10.5 per 100,000 in 2016-2018. The research team concluded that the quality improvement program was feasible to implement, resulted in process improvements in colon cancer care, and substantially decreased colon cancer mortality over seven years by 23.9 percent. They expressed hope that their findings can be useful in other care settings.
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