Laparoscopic Surgery Works for Colon Cancer
Minimally Invasive Surgery Just as Effective as Standard Surgery
WebMD News Archive
April 8, 2004 -- Minimally invasive surgery for colon cancer
may be just as effective as more invasive surgery techniques but with a much
shorter recovery time, a new study suggests.
Researchers say laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer has been
available since 1991, but until now little information was available about the
long-term effectiveness of the procedure.
Laparoscopic surgery requires only a few small or
"keyhole" incisions, rather than a large incision required by standard
surgical techniques. During the procedure, a camera and small surgical
instruments are inserted through the small incisions to guide the surgeon in
the removal of the tumor.
In one of the first studies to compare the long-term survival
of patients who had laparoscopic surgery with those who had conventional
surgical tumor removal for colon cancer, researchers found that the minimally
invasive technique was as effective as conventional surgery and had the added
benefit of a shorter recovery period.
New Option for Colon Cancer Surgery
The study, published in the April 10 issue of The
Lancet, involved 403 people with colon cancer who were randomly assigned to
have either laparoscopic or conventional open resection of the tumor. The
patients were then followed over a 10-year period from 1993 to 2002.
Researchers found that the five-year survival rates were not
significantly different between the two groups (76% for laparoscopy and 73% for
The percentage of patients who were cancer-free five years
after surgery was also similar, 75% vs. 78% in the laparoscopic and
conventional groups, respectively.
The study showed that surgery time for the minimally invasive
procedure was longer, but recovery time after surgery was shorter and
significantly better in reducing pain.
But researchers say the benefits of laparoscopic surgery for
colon cancer came at a higher cost compared with conventional surgery. They
estimated that direct costs from the laparoscopic procedure were about $2,100
more than the traditional surgery.
However, researchers say that difference in cost may become
smaller with time due to advances in technology, staff training, and