A minimally invasive surgical approach has been found to have certain advantages that makes it a preferable treatment for some stomach cancer patients.
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) say that the procedure called laparoscopic gastrectomy yields shorter hospital stays, decreased need for postoperative pain relief, fewer complications after surgery, and similar rates of recurrence-free survival after 36 months of follow-up, compared to the traditional "open" surgery.
"Our number one goal in treating patients with stomach cancer is to remove the cancer completely and safely, while preserving his or her quality of life," said the study's lead author Vivian E. Strong, MD, a surgeon at MSKCC who specializes in laparoscopic surgery for the treatment of stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer.
"Laparoscopic gastrectomy is an excellent option for certain patients with the disease, and for those patients, this approach has the same success rate as standard open surgery, with significantly fewer complications," Strong added.
For the study, researchers examined the surgical characteristics and oncologic outcomes of 30 patients who underwent laparoscopic gastrectomy and compared them to 30 patients who had open gastrectomies.
The patients in each group were matched for cancer stage, age, and gender, and had their surgeries during the same time period.
In addition to the benefits seen among the patients who underwent laparoscopic gastrectomy, researchers also observed that this approach enabled adequate lymph node retrieval, an important part of a complete cancer surgery in which nearby nodes are removed and then carefully examined for the presence of cancer cells to determine whether the cancer has spread.
According to the researchers, this finding addresses an ongoing controversy that questions whether removal of the lymph nodes and other oncologic features of the resection during laparoscopic gastrectomy are equivalent to open surgery, particularly given the technical demands of the minimally invasive approach and the learning curve required to perform an adequate resection.
The study is published online in the Annals of Surgical Oncology.