Objective: To compare long-term oncologic outcomes between laparoscopic and open surgery for rectal cancer and to identify independent predictors of survival.
Background: Few randomized trials comparing laparoscopic and open surgery for rectal cancer have reported long-term survival data.
Methods: Data from the 3 randomized controlled trials comparing curative laparoscopic (n = 136) and open surgery (n = 142) for upper, mid, and low rectal cancer conducted at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, between September 1993 and August 2007 were pooled together for this analysis. Survival and disease status were updated to February 2012. Survival was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method, and independent predictors of survival were determined using the Cox regression analysis.
Results: The demographic data of the 2 groups were comparable. The median follow-up time of living patients was 124.5 months in the laparoscopic group and 136.6 months in the open group. At 10 years, there were no significant differences in locoregional recurrence (5.5% vs. 9.3%; P = 0.296), cancer-specific survival (82.5% vs. 77.6%; P = 0.443), and overall survival (63.0% vs. 61.1%; P = 0.505) between the laparoscopic and open groups. There was a trend toward lower recurrence rate at 10 years in the laparoscopic group than in the open group among patients with stage III cancer (P = 0.078). The Cox regression analysis showed that stage III cancer, lymphovascular permeation, and blood transfusion, but not the operative approach, were independent predictors of poorer cancer-specific survival.
Conclusions: This pooled analysis with a follow-up of more than 10 years confirms the long-term oncologic safety of laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer.