Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) is a new concept that attempts to reduce the impact of surgery on the patient. In surgical oncology several studies have already revealed that a minimally invasive approach provides at least the same, if not a better, long-term outcome. One could hypothesize that a less invasive approach such as NOTES could further enhance such advantages. Since its initial description, NOTES has become clinical reality and today nearly every organ is accessible by a transluminal approach, in at least the experimental setting. Subsequent to published research, first clinical studies on NOTES in oncology were reported and the accuracy of transgastric peritoneoscopy for staging of pancreas cancer was shown to be similar to laparoscopy in humans. A NOTES gastro-jejunostomy via transgastric access has also been proposed to decrease invasiveness of palliative treatment of duodenal, biliary and pancreatic cancers. Colorectal cancer resection via transanal access would offer a clear-cut patient advantage over laparoscopic and would not be subject to the frequent criticism of violating an innocent second organ, as the colon or rectum is always breached in a colectomy. Natural orifice endoluminal therapies, such as endoscopic submucosal dissection, already have been clinically applied for several years. Improved techniques or instruments evolving from NOTES technology might enhance its widespread use for the treatment of early malignancies and thereby again will provide a tremendous benefit for the patient. Although still somewhat controversial, the subject of natural orifice surgery in oncological disease indicates that current laboratory efforts to introduce NOTES into cancer surgery could be ready for cautious clinical investigations. The final determination of patient benefit will need well-constructed prospective study.
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