Background: Although early reports on laparoscopy-assisted colectomy (LAC) in patients with colon cancer suggested that it reduces perioperative morbidity, its influence on long-term results is unknown. Our study aimed to compare efficacy of LAC and open colectomy (OC) for treatment of non-metastatic colon cancer in terms of tumour recurrence and survival.
Methods: From November, 1993, to July, 1998, all patients with adenocarcinoma of the colon were assessed for entry in this randomised trial. Adjuvant therapy and postoperative follow-up were the same in both groups. The main endpoint was cancer-related survival. Data were analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle.
Findings: 219 patients took part in the study (111 LAC group, 108 OC group). Patients in the LAC group recovered faster than those in the OC group, with shorter peristalsis-detection (p=0.001) and oral-intake times (p=0.001), and shorter hospital stays (p=0.005). Morbidity was lower in the LAC group (p=0.001), although LAC did not influence perioperative mortality. Probability of cancer-related survival was higher in the LAC group (p=0.02). The Cox model showed that LAC was independently associated with reduced risk of tumour relapse (hazard ratio 0.39, 95% CI 0.19-0.82), death from any cause (0.48, 0.23-1.01), and death from a cancer-related cause (0.38, 0.16-0.91) compared with OC. This superiority of LAC was due to differences in patients with stage III tumours (p=0.04, p=0.02, and p=0.006, respectively).
Interpretation: LAC is more effective than OC for treatment of colon cancer in terms of morbidity, hospital stay, tumour recurrence, and cancer-related survival.