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Peter Matthiessen - new professor 2021

Peter Matthiessen.

Peter Matthiessen is adjunct professor of surgery and specialises in aortic surgery. He researches rectum cancer and how stoma affects surgical complications, intestinal function, and quality of life. His research also studies how keyhole surgery affects complications and survival in rectal and colon cancer, leading to better and more equal care and improved quality of life.


1957 Born in Stockholm

2006 Obtained his PhD in medical science from Linköping University with his thesis Rectal cancer. Defunctioning stoma, anastomotic leakage and postoperative monitoring

2010 Associate professor in medical science at Örebro University

2020 Adjunct Professor of medical science specialising in surgery at Örebro University

“The overall aim of my research is to contribute to improving healthcare, centring on improving the quality of life for patients,” says Peter Matthiessen.

In Sweden, 2,200 people are diagnosed with rectal cancer yearly – 4,300 with large intestinal cancer. Cancer of the rectum and colon, collectively known as colorectal or bowel cancer, is most typically diagnosed at 70.

A majority of sufferers undergo major surgery, and many also require additional treatment with radiation or chemotherapy. These treatments pose a risk of complications and often lead to a change in future intestinal function and affect the quality of life. While four in five are cured, a fifth often requires continued treatment for residual disease.

“Today’s treatment of colorectal cancer is an advanced team effort with many different professions involved and requires significant health economic resources. My goal with the research is to advance health care for people with colorectal cancer and to improve their quality of life,” says Peter Matthiessen.

Possibility of research

In the early 1990s and as a resident at the surgical clinic at USÖ, Örebro University Hospital (previously Örebro Regional Hospital), Peter Matthiessen saw patients with colorectal cancer, opening the prospect for research in the discipline.

“There were many uncertainties at the time as to how serious postoperative complications could be prevented. It was also unclear how patients would best be cared for and monitored after extensive surgical intervention.”

This uncertainty led to a collaboration with Linköping University and the start of regional and national studies investigating the role a temporary relieving stoma could play in rectal cancer surgery. Other studies aimed to use biomarkers to find ways to follow the postoperative course. Some of these studies have had a lasting international impact.

Develops colorectal keyhole surgery

Another area of research is keyhole surgery (laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery) in colorectal cancer, introduced at the surgical clinic at USÖ in 2006 under the direction of Peter Matthiessen. Over the past decade, he has also led a national working group aimed at developing colorectal peephole surgery in Sweden.

“There is still a lot to do here. The development in Sweden’s 21 regions has shown significant variations, and healthcare is still not equal in this area,” says Peter Matthiessen, and continues:

“My research in this area aims to investigate and compare peephole surgery with conventional open surgery and compare short- and long-term results. The goal is to improve surgical treatment and care - and to make this part of healthcare more equal in Sweden.”

National Register

Since the late 1990s, all patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer in Sweden have been registered in a national register, the Swedish Colorectal Cancer Registry (SCRCR). Here you will find information about the patient’s state of health, the characteristics of the tumour, and oncological and surgical treatment, all in the short and long term. The Swedish register is extensive from an international perspective and has a very high coverage rate.

Since 2017, Peter Matthiessen has been responsible for all research that may be carried out based on data from this national register and leads the assessment team that decides on research projects.

“There is great interest in research on the register. My mission here is to contribute to the continuation and increase the scope of register research of high international quality. Publishing such research in international medical journals in many cases has the possibility of improving treatment for patients with colorectal cancer.”

For surgeon Peter Matthiessen, meeting the individual patient is what drives him:

“I like that very much, whether at a clinic, ward or on an operating table. These encounters give me the will to continue with research and strive to contribute to advancing health care and improving the quality of life for patients.”