Colon and rectal cancer: Laparoscopic or open?

Anne Marie Boller, Heidi Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Early experiences with laparoscopic colectomy were unfavorable, with higher than expected rates of wound tumor implants and concerns about short and long-term compromised oncologic outcomes. Several international randomized controlled trials were initiated to address concerns regarding compromised oncologic outcomes. Each of the trials was designed to test the hypothesis that level 1 evidence supports the general feasibility and recovery advantage as well as cancer equivalence of laparoscopic colectomy in curable colon cancer. The following four phase III randomized controlled trials have completed accrual and reported early data on recovery benefits for laparoscopic colectomy: Barcelona, Clinical Outcomes of Surgical Therapy Study Group (COSTSG), Colon Cancer Laparoscopic or Open Resection (COLOR), and Conventional versus Laparoscopic-Assisted Surgery in Colorectal Cancer (CLASICC). These trials have uniformly and consistently shown a significant reduction in the use of narcotics and oral analgesics and length of hospital stay, as well as a faster return of diet and bowel function, with laparoscopic colectomy. Two of the trials, Barcelona and COSTSG, have sufficient maturation and follow-up to report recurrence and survival data, and neither has found a survival disadvantage in patients treated with laparoscopic colectomy. Results of the Barcelona trial suggest a cancer-related survival advantage in patients treated with laparoscopic colectomy, based solely on differences in patients with stage III disease; this is not confirmed by the COSTSG trial. Results of the CLASICC and COLOR trials, as well as 5-year data from the COSTSG trial, should definitively address survival results. The investigational experience with laparoscopic rectal cancer is not as mature; the subset of rectal cancer patients (n = 253) in the CLASICC trial provides the only available randomized controlled trial data. Laparoscopic colectomy in patients with curable cancer is accepted as an alternative to open colectomy, whereas the viability of laparoscopic rectal cancer resection requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6894S-6896S
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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