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Outcomes Similar for Laparoscopic, Open Colon Cancer Surgeries

Study finds mortality and survival rates equal for both procedures

FRIDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery and open surgery for colon cancer produce similar outcomes, according to researchers who reviewed findings from 12 international studies involving over 3,300 patients.

"For a long time, many surgeons have been afraid that laparoscopy might impair survival in colorectal cancer patients and cause metastases in the skin openings that are used to insert the instruments, but this has proven not to be the case," lead reviewer Dr. Esther Kuhry, a general surgery resident at Namsos Hospital in Norway, said in prepared statement.

The review found no significant differences between laparoscopic surgery and open surgery for colon cancer in terms of short-term and five-year survival rates, cancer metastasis, or cancer-related deaths. They also found no differences in rates of hernias and adhesions (bands of scar tissue that form between organs and tissue), two common complications after colorectal cancer surgery.

However, there was not enough reliable evidence to draw reliable conclusions about whether laparoscopic surgery safely compares to open surgery for patients with rectal cancer.

The review was published in the current issue of the Cochrane Library journal.

Laparoscopic surgery, which is conducted through small incisions, is used for a number procedures, including gallbladder removal, appendectomies, and gastric bypass. Patients who have laparoscopic surgery have less pain and quicker recovery times.

"More studies are emerging that suggest the laparoscopic approach to colorectal cancer resection is equivalent in terms of cancer control. However, more long-term data is needed to verify that and more thorough data is required before anyone can say it is better or preferred," Dr. Janice Rafferty, chief of the division of colon and rectal surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. She wasn't involved in the review.

Rafferty said the review looked at too few studies to come to any definitive conclusions.

"It is true that it appears that laparoscopic outcomes in cancer surgery are equivalent, but that is not a strong enough argument to say it must be offered to all cancer patients, which (the authors) say in conclusion," Rafferty noted.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. There will be more than 148,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed in 2008, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about colorectal cancer treatments.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, May 2008

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