Fourteen years of data from Mount Gambier Hospital show the regional facility matches the cancer surgery outcomes of its city counterparts.

Key points:

  • The study collated data from 311 patients treated for stages one-three of colorectal cancer from 2006-2020
  • It shows the health outcomes for those patients were as positive as those who underwent surgery in metropolitan areas
  • Lead author Matthias Wichmann says it is reassuring news for regional communities

The Flinders University study found that colorectal cancer patients that underwent surgery at a regional hospital had similar positive health outcomes and survival rates.

Lead author and Mount Gambier Hospital general surgeon Matthias Wichmann said it was good news for the local community.

“The results show that our outcomes and our long-term survival is as good as anyone else that was producing results like that while doing this surgery in a major city,” he said.

“Our interest was to make sure that we are offering the same outcome as people could expect if travelling to Adelaide or Melbourne, or Brisbane or Sydney for this kind of surgery.”

Associate Professor Matthias Wichmann says the study justifies regional surgeons conducting colorectal cancer surgery.(

ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside


‘Everywhere in the country’

Dr Wichmann said it provided justification for conducting colorectal surgery in regional centres.

“That’s what this data is important for, you know, because there’s a lot of talk about centralisation of any kind of medical services,” he said.

“Bowel surgery is such a big part of the work in every general surgical unit — you basically have to show that you are good enough to compete with any other dedicated unit.

“But what you can say is that with adequate infrastructure and support, this can be delivered everywhere in the country, provided the surgeons are well-educated and well-trained.”

Data was collated from 311 patients at the Mount Gambier Hospital over 14 years.(

ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside


Reassuring for community

Dr Wichmann said the results represented a positive step for regional communities.

“We have a fairly solid base of patients and good support of the community,” he said.

“So I would hope that the community’s reassured in what they’re doing by choosing us as their service provider for the general surgery, and in this case, their colorectal cancer needs.”

The report, Colorectal cancer surgery in rural Australia can match outcomes in metropolitan hospitals: a 14-year study, was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

It was authored by Dr Wichmann, Timothy McCullough, Eben Beukes, Thomas Gunning and Guy Maddern.

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