Background: Recently published studies suggest that the anesthetic technique used during oncologic surgery affects cancer recurrence. To evaluate the effect of anesthetic technique on disease progression and long-term survival, we compared patients receiving general anesthesia plus intraoperative and postoperative thoracic epidural analgesia with patients receiving general anesthesia alone undergoing open retropubic radical prostatectomy with extended pelvic lymph node dissection.
Methods: Two sequential series were studied. Patients receiving general anesthesia combined with epidural analgesia (January 1994-June 1997, n=103) were retrospectively compared with a group given general anesthesia combined with ketorolac-morphine analgesia (July 1997-December 2000, n=158). Biochemical recurrence-free survival, clinical progression-free survival, cancer-specific survival, and overall survival were assessed using the Kaplan-Meier technique and compared using a multivariate Cox-proportional-hazards regression model and an alternative model with inverse probability weights to adjust for propensity score.
Results: Using propensity score adjustment with inverse probability weights, general anesthesia combined with epidural analgesia resulted in improved clinical progression-free survival (hazard ratio, 0.45; 95% confidence interval, 0.27-0.75, P=0.002). No significant differences in the two groups were found for biochemical recurrence-free survival, cancer-specific survival, or overall survival. Higher preoperative serum values for prostate-specific antigen, specimen Gleason score of at least 7, non-organ-confined tumor stage, and positive lymph node status were independent predictors of biochemical recurrence-free survival.
Conclusions: General anesthesia with epidural analgesia was associated with a reduced risk of clinical cancer progression. However, no significant difference was found between general anesthesia plus postoperative ketorolac-morphine analgesia and general anesthesia plus intraoperative and postoperative thoracic epidural analgesia in biochemical recurrence-free survival, cancer-specific survival, or overall survival.