From the Journals

Laparoscopic surgery has short-term advantages for elderly patients with colorectal cancer



Elderly patients with colorectal cancer have better perioperative outcomes than do those who undergo open surgery, although in this sample, long-term outcomes are similar, Sicheng Zhou, and colleagues wrote in BMC Surgery.

Team of doctors performing surgery on a patient at hospital. HRAUN/Getty Images

“Laparoscopic surgery showed better results than the open surgery in short-term outcomes,” said Dr. Zhou of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and coauthors. “[Carcinoembryonic antigen] level, III/IV stage, and perineural invasion were all reliable predictors of overall survival and disease-free survival for the treatment of laparoscopic surgery and open surgery for elderly Chinese patients over 80 years old with colorectal cancer.”

The study comprised 313 patients aged 80 years or older who underwent surgery for colorectal cancer. The group was equally divided between those who had laparoscopic and open surgery. They were matched 1:1, for a total of 93 pairs included. The patients’ mean age was 82 years. Medical comorbidities were present in about 63%. The tumor was more likely to present in the in the rectum and right colon (about 34% each). The next most common disease site was the sigmoid colon (22%).

Most tumors were stage III (58%), and II (about 30%). About 70% were moderately differentiated and 20% poorly differentiated. Carcinoembryonic antigen was greater than 5 ng/mL in about three-fourths of the group, and higher in the reminder.

Surgery duration was somewhat shorter in the open group but not significantly so. However, intraoperative complications were higher in the open group, including transfusion (22.6% vs. 16% and blood loss 50.9 vs. 108 mL). There was a lower occurrence of postoperative complications (10.8% vs. 26.9%) in the laparoscopic group.

Intraoperative complications occurred in only one patient, who was in the laparoscopic group, but perioperative complications were significantly more common in the open group (17.2% vs. 6.5%). In the open group these included wound infection (9.7%), followed by ileus (5.4%), anastomosis leakage (4.3%), and delayed gastric emptying (4.3%). In the laparoscopic group, the most common morbidities were anastomosis leakage (2.2%), ileus (2.2%) and pneumonia (2.2%).

The number of retrieved lymph nodes was also significantly higher in the laparoscopic group (20 vs. 17).

Yet, despite the short-term perioperative advantages of the laparoscopic approach in elderly patients, the 3- and 5-year overall and disease-free survival rates were not significantly different in these groups. The investigators concluded “it is noteworthy that the 3-year and 5-year [overall survival] rates, and 3- year and 5-year [disease-free survival] rates of patients in the laparoscopic group were generally higher than the open group. The 5-year [disease-free survival] rate in the laparoscopic group was even higher than that in the open group by more than 10%. This difference might be due to the difference in the number of dissected lymph nodes between the open group and the laparoscopic group. Hence, although there was no significant difference in survival outcomes between the two surgical methods, the laparoscopic surgery in elderly patients with colorectal cancer might achieve better survival outcomes than the open surgery.”

The authors declared that they had no competing interests. This work was supported by the Beijing Hope Run Special Fund of Cancer Foundation of China and Capital Health Research and Development.

SOURCE: Zhou S et al. BMC Surg. 2019;19:137. doi: 10.1186/s12893-019-0596-3.

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