Laparoscopic and open resection of rectal cancer-is age an effect modifier for short- and long-term survival?

Teresa Draeger, Vinzenz Völkel, Valentin Schnitzbauer, Michael Gerken, Stefan Benz, Monika Klinkhammer-Schalke, Alois Fürst
International Journal of Colorectal Disease 2019, 34 (5): 821-828

INTRODUCTION: Rectal cancer is a frequently diagnosed tumor worldwide. Various studies have shown the noninferiority or even slight superiority of laparoscopic resection. However, there is no clear recommendation on whether age should influence the choice of surgical approach.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study compared outcomes of laparoscopic and open surgery in rectal cancer patients. Perioperative mortality and 5-year overall, relative, and recurrence-free survival rates were analyzed separately for three age groups. Data originate from 30 regional German cancer registries that cover approximately one quarter of the German population. All primary nonmetastatic rectal adenocarcinoma cases with surgery between 2005 and 2014 were eligible for inclusion. To compare survival rates, Kaplan-Meier analysis, a relative survival model, and multivariable Cox regression were used; a sensitivity analysis assessed bias by exclusion.

RESULTS: Ten thousand seven hundred fifty-four patients were included in the analysis. The mean laparoscopy rate was 23.0% and increased over time. Analysis of 30-day postoperative mortality rates revealed advantages for laparoscopically treated patients, although the significance level was not reached in any age group. Regarding 5-year overall survival, laparoscopy generally seems to be the superior approach, whereas for recurrence-free survival, an age-dependent gradient in effect size was observed: with a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.703 for laparoscopy, patients under 60 years benefitted more from the minimally invasive approach than older patients (septuagenarians, HR 0.923).

CONCLUSION: Laparoscopy shows similar results to the open approach in terms of postoperative survival in all age groups. Concerning long-term outcomes, younger patients benefitted most from the minimally invasive approach.

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