Background: The safety and short-term benefits of laparoscopic colectomy for cancer remain debatable. The multicentre COLOR (COlon cancer Laparoscopic or Open Resection) trial was done to assess the safety and benefit of laparoscopic resection compared with open resection for curative treatment of patients with cancer of the right or left colon.
Methods: 627 patients were randomly assigned to laparoscopic surgery and 621 patients to open surgery. The primary endpoint was cancer-free survival 3 years after surgery. Secondary outcomes were short-term morbidity and mortality, number of positive resection margins, local recurrence, port-site or wound-site recurrence, metastasis, overall survival, and blood loss during surgery. Analysis was by intention to treat. Here, clinical characteristics, operative findings, and postoperative outcome are reported.
Findings: Patients assigned laparoscopic resection had less blood loss compared with those assigned open resection (median 100 mL [range 0-2700] vs 175 mL [0-2000], p<0.0001), although laparoscopic surgery lasted 30 min longer than did open surgery (p<0.0001). Conversion to open surgery was needed for 91 (17%) patients undergoing the laparoscopic procedure. Radicality of resection as assessed by number of removed lymph nodes and length of resected oral and aboral bowel did not differ between groups. Laparoscopic colectomy was associated with earlier recovery of bowel function (p<0.0001), need for fewer analgesics, and with a shorter hospital stay (p<0.0001) compared with open colectomy. Morbidity and mortality 28 days after colectomy did not differ between groups.
Interpretation: Laparoscopic surgery can be used for safe and radical resection of cancer in the right, left, and sigmoid colon.