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Laparoscopic Surgery May Not Be Best Option for Rectal Cancer

Results from two studies show standard surgery to be slightly more successful

TUESDAY, Oct. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Minimally invasive surgery does not match standard surgery for the treatment of rectal cancer, according to two studies published in the Oct. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

James Fleshman, M.D., chairman of the department of surgery at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues focused on rectal cancer patients who underwent surgery at one of 35 different health centers in the United States and Canada between 2008 and 2013. All the patients were diagnosed with stage II or III rectal cancer. Laparoscopic surgery was performed on 240 of the patients, while another 222 underwent standard invasive surgery.

Fleshman and colleagues determined that eight of the 10 surgeons achieved a success rate with laparoscopic surgery that was either worse or no better than the success rate they achieved with standard surgery. That translated into an 82 percent success rate for laparoscopic procedures versus 87 percent for standard surgeries. Both procedures had a roughly similar risk for complications, and were comparable in terms of length of hospital stay and readmission risk. However, laparoscopic surgery required much more time than standard surgery.

A second, similar study, led by Andrew Stevenson, M.B., B.S., from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, also compared the two procedures among 475 patients who were diagnosed with both early-stage and advanced rectal cancer (stage I to stage III). About half underwent laparoscopic surgery and half got standard surgery at one of 24 centers in Australia and New Zealand. In the end, the findings almost matched the results of Fleshman's team: 82 percent success rate among the laparoscopic group versus 89 percent for the standard group.

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