Challenges to quality assurance of surgical interventions in clinical oncology trials: A systematic review

James William Butterworth*, Piers R. Boshier, Stella Mavroveli, Jan BB Van Lanschot, Mitsuru Sasako, John V. Reynolds, George B. Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Where surgery forms the primary curative modality in surgical oncology trials the quality of this intervention has the potential to directly influence outcomes. Many trials however lack a robust framework to ensure surgical quality. We aim to report existing published challenges to quality assurance of surgical interventions within oncological trials. A systematic on-line literature search of Embase and Medline identified 34 relevant studies, including 19 RCTs, 11 further analyses of the primary RCTs, and 4 trial protocols. Inclusion criteria: oncological RCTs with a surgical intervention and/or associated publications relevant to the research question; ‘Challenges to quality assurance of surgery in clinical oncology trials’. Selected articles were assessed by two reviewers to identify reported challenges to quality assurance of surgical intervention within these trials. Reported challenges to surgical quality could be classified as those affecting credentialing, standardisation and monitoring of surgical interventions. Constraints of using case volume for credentialing surgeons; inter-centre variation in the definition and execution of interventions; insufficient training, and monitoring of surgical quality, were the most commonly encountered challenges within each of these three domains. Findings confirmed an inadequacy in the implementation and reporting of effective surgical quality assurance measures. The surgical community should enable implementation of agreed upon mitigating strategies to overcome challenges to surgical quality in oncology trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-756
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


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