Introduction: Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) pathways have been proven to enhance postoperative recovery, reduce morbidity, and reduce length of hospital stay after colorectal cancer surgery. However, despite the benefits of the ERAS program on short-term results, little is known about its impact on long-term results.
Objective: The aim of the study was to determine the association between adherence to the ERAS protocol and long-term survival after laparoscopic colorectal resection for non-metastatic cancer.
Material and methodology: Between 2013 and 2016, 350 patients underwent laparoscopic colorectal cancer resection in the 2nd Department of General Surgery, Jagiellonian University Medical College, and were enrolled for further analysis. The relationship between the rate of compliance with the ERAS protocol and 3-year survival was analyzed according to the Kaplan-Meier method with log-rank tests. Patients were divided into two groups according to their degree of adherence to the ERAS interventions: Group 1 (109 patients), < 80% adherence, and Group 2 (241 patients), ≥ 80% adherence. The primary outcome was overall 3-year survival. The secondary outcomes were postoperative complications, length of hospital stay, and recovery parameters.
Results: The groups were similar in terms of demographics and surgical parameters. The median compliance to ERAS interventions was 85.2%. The Cox proportional model showed that AJCC III (HR 3.28, 95% CI 1.61-6.59, p = 0.0021), postoperative complications (HR 2.63, 95% CI 1.19-5.52, p = 0.0161), and compliance with ERAS protocol < 80% (HR 3.38, 95% CI 2.23-5.21, p = 0.0102) were independent predictors for poor prognosis. Additionally, analysis revealed that adherence to the ERAS protocol in Group 2 with ≥ 80% adherence was associated with a significantly shorter length of hospital stay (6 vs. 4 days, p < 0.0001), a lower rate of postoperative complications (44.7% vs. 23.3%, p < 0.0001), and improved functional recovery parameters: tolerance of oral diet (53.4% vs. 81.5%, p < 0.0001) and mobilization (77.7% vs. 96.1%, p < 0.0001) on the first postoperative day.
Conclusions and relevance: This study reports an association between adherence to the ERAS protocol and long-term survival after laparoscopic colorectal resection for non-metastatic cancer. Lower adherence to the protocol, independent from stage of cancer and postoperative complications, was an independent risk factors for poorer survival rates.