This systematic review focuses on long-term outcome of laparoscopic versus open surgery for colorectal cancer, including long-term complications and cancer outcome.

Laparoscopic resection of carcinoma of the colon is associated with a long term outcome no different from that of open colectomy. In the case of rectal cancer, data on long term outcome are scarce and the results of large randomised trails have to be awaited.
Laparoscopic approach offers short-term benefits to patients, such as less pain and quicker recovery. However, concern about port-site metastases (laparoscopic incision wound) and irradical laparoscopic resections withheld many surgeons from performing laparoscopic surgery for cancer. Minimally invasive surgery for colon and rectal cancer has mainly been performed within the framework of randomized clinical trials.

Authors' conclusions: 

Laparoscopic resection of carcinoma of the colon is associated with a long term outcome no different from that of open colectomy. Further studies are required to determine whether the incidence of incisional hernias and adhesions is affected by method of approach. Laparoscopic surgery for cancer of the upper rectum is feasible, but more randomised trials need to be conducted to assess long term outcome.

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Background: 

Although minimally invasive surgery has been accepted for a variety of disorders, laparoscopic resection of colorectal cancer is performed by few. Concern about oncological radicality and long term outcome has limited the adoption of laparoscopic surgery for colorectal cancer.

Objectives: 

To determine long-term outcome after laparoscopically-assisted versus open surgery for non-metastasised colorectal cancer.

Search strategy: 

The Cochrane library, EMBASE, Pub med and Cancer Lit were searched for published and unpublished randomised controlled trials.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised clinical trials comparing laparoscopically-assisted and open surgery for non-metastasised colorectal cancer were included. Studies that did not report any long-term outcomes were excluded.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two reviewers independently assessed the studies and extracted data. RevMan 4.2 was used for statistical analysis.

Main results: 

Thirty-three randomised clinical trials (RCT) comparing laparoscopically-assisted versus open surgery for colorectal cancer were identified. Twelve of these trials, involving 3346 patients, reported long-term outcome and were included in the current analysis. No significant differences in the occurrence of incisional hernia, reoperations for incisional hernia or reoperations for adhesions were found between laparoscopically assisted and open surgery (2 RCT, 474 pts, 7.9% vs 10.9%;P = 0.32 and 2 RCT, 474 pts, 4.0% vs 2.8%; P = 0.42 and 1 RCT, 391 pts, 1.1% vs 2.5%;P = 0.30, respectively). Rates of recurrence at the site of the primary tumor were similar (colon cancer: 4 RCT, 938 pts, 5.2% vs 5.6%; OR (fixed) 0.84 (95% CI 0.47 to 1.52)(P = 0.57); rectal cancer: 4 RCT, 714 pts, 7.2% vs 7.7%; OR (fixed) 0.81 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.43) (P = 0.46). No differences in the occurrence of port-site/wound recurrences were observed (P=0.16). Similar cancer-related mortality was found after laparoscopic surgery compared to open surgery ( colon cancer: 5 RCT, 1575 pts, 14.6% vs 16.4%; OR (fixed) 0.80 (95% CI 0.61 to 1.06) (P=0.15); rectal cancer: 3 RCT, 578 pts, 9.2% vs 10.0%; OR (fixed) 0.66 (95% CI 0.37 to 1.19) (P=0.16).
Four studies were included in the meta-analyses on hazard ratios for tumour recurrence in laparoscopic colorectal cancer surgery. No significant difference in recurrence rate was observed between laparoscopic and open surgery (hazard ratio for tumour recurrence in the laparoscopic group 0.92; 95% CI 0.76-1.13). No significant difference in tumour recurrence between laparoscopic and open surgery for colon cancer was observed (hazard ratio for tumour recurrence in the laparoscopic group 0.86; 95% CI 0.70-1.08).

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