Doctors say minimally invasive surgery for colon cancer is as effective as open surgery. Since 1990, minimally invasive surgery, also called laparoscopically assisted surgery, has been an option. With minimally invasive surgery, the procedure is performed through three half-inch incisions and one two-inch incision compared to the open surgery where doctors do a six- to eight-inch incision. But the question has remained whether minimally invasive surgery is as effective as open surgery.
A team of surgeons, conducted a trial comparing the two surgeries and the outcomes of the patients. The team enforced qualification requirements for the 66 surgeons who were part of the study. The patients were randomly assigned to one procedure or the other and then followed for eight years.
The study reports the cancer returned to the colon or another area at almost the exact same rate in both groups of patients. The survival rate, overall survival, and rates of complications were also nearly identical. However, those who had minimally invasive surgery required one less day in the hospital, one less day on intravenous painkillers, and one less day on oral painkillers.
Researchers say most patients ask for minimally invasive surgery because it's less painful and requires a smaller incision, but no one had rigorously evaluated the safety and effectiveness of the procedure. Researchers say that the surgical community should apply the same standard operating techniques to safely remove cancer when they perform even the less invasive mode of surgery .