Colon cancer surgery or colectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove a part of the entire colon, along with nearby lymph nodes. The risk of postoperative morbidity following colon cancer surgery is high, but the risk factors are not well documented. This study aims to evaluate the relationship between muscle characteristics and the risk of postoperative morbidity and mortality after colon cancer surgery.

This population-based retrospective cohort study included a total of 1,630 patients (mean age 64.0 years, 55.6% women) diagnosed with stage 1-3 colon cancer. Preliminary data and major complication data in the patients were collected. The primary outcomes of the study were low skeletal muscle index (SMI) and/or low skeletal muscle radiodensity (SMD) levels.

The findings suggested that patients with low SMI or SMD levels were more likely to remain hospitalized for 1 week or longer after surgery (odds ratio 1.33). Patients with low SMI and SMD were also at a higher risk of overall mortality (hazard ratio 1.40). In addition, patients with low SMI were at a higher risk of postsurgical complications and 30-day mortality.

The research concluded that patients with low SMI and SMD were associated with a significantly higher rate of mortality, complications, and longer hospitalization after having colon cancer surgery.