Long-Term Outcomes for Laparoscopic Versus Open Resection of Nonmetastatic Colorectal Cancer
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BACKGROUND: Skepticism prevails over the role of minimally invasive surgery in the treatment of colorectal cancer. Long-term data on the safety and efficacy of this technique remain scarce. A nonrandomized, prospective comparison of laparoscopic colorectal cancer surgery (LS) with open surgery (OS) was undertaken to evaluate long-term survival. METHODS: A total of 233 patients with nonmetastatic colorectal cancer underwent either a laparoscopic (n = 116) or an open (n = 117) potentially curative resection. Almost all patients between July 1996 and December 2002 were randomized within two consecutive trials; however, prior to this, a significant proportion of patients received open surgery. The primary endpoints were overall survival, disease-free survival, and cumulative disease recurrence. Analysis was by intention to treat. RESULTS: Median follow-up was 40 months for the LS group and 58 months for the OS group. No statistically significant difference was found between the LS and OS groups regarding overall survival (P = 0.603 for colon cancer and P = 0.841 for rectal cancer), disease-free survival (P = 0.684 for colon cancer and P = 0.625 for rectal cancer), and overall recurrence (P = 0.383 for colon cancer and P = 0.166 for rectal cancer). Cumulative recurrence rate in colon cancer favors OS (P = 0.018). In rectal cancer, this did not differ between the two treatment modalities (P = 0.965). Tumor resection margins and lymph node harvest were similar in the two surgery groups. Perioperative mortality in the LS group was also no different from the OS group (P = 0.644 for 30-day mortality and P = 0.692 for in-hospital mortality). CONCLUSION: Long-term survival data support LS as a safe, effective alternative to conventional surgery for treating potentially curative colorectal cancer. However, the higher cumulative recurrence associated with LS in the colonic cancer group needs further research into its underlying cause.
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