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Surg Endosc. 2001 Feb;15(2):110-5.

Laparotomy, laparoscopy, cancer, and beyond.

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Department of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 161 Fort Washington Avenue, Suite 819, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The fate of laparoscopic methods for the treatment of cancer remains uncertain. Published middle-range oncologic results from nonrandomized studies demonstrate that laparoscopic methods are associated with an outcome comparable with results after open resection. The world awaits the 3- and 5-year oncologic results of the ongoing randomized and prospective trials. There is a possibility that laparoscopic methods may be associated with a survival benefit. Port tumors remain a concern. However, results at this writing suggest that these recurrences take place at a frequency similar to that of incisional recurrences following open cancer resection. Port tumors currently are viewed as local recurrences. Traumatization of the tumor at the time of resection is thought to be the most important surgery-related risk factor. The demonstration of a survival benefit in a randomized trial would likely have a tremendous impact on the surgical world. Avoidance of laparotomy-related immunosuppression and tumor stimulation, both of which have been well demonstrated in animal studies, theoretically, might account for differences in cancer outcome. The early postoperative period may be a critical time during which the fate of many cancer patients is determined. It is possible that this may be an ideal time frame for antitumor immunotherapy because the tumor burden is at its lowest, and because immunotherapy, unlike conventional chemotherapy, is unlikely to have a negative impact on wound and anastomotic healing. Perioperative nonspecific upregulation of immune function via pharmacologic means may improve long-term oncologic results. Similarly, preoperative tumor vaccines might provide patients with a specific means of combating any remaining tumor cells after curative resection. The results of several recently completed murine studies support both of these ideas. Finally, early postoperative administration of monoclonal antitumor antibodies might provide patients with specific means of combating any remaining tumor cells after curative resection. The introduction of advanced minimally invasive techniques nearly a decade ago has led to new methods of approaching malignant tumors that have the potential to have an impact on the oncologic outcome of cancer patients. This decade-long journey also has led to new insights regarding the impact of surgery on the patient. It also has alerted us concerning the importance of the immediate postoperative period in the patient's ongoing struggle against the tumor. These insights hopefully will lead to better surgical methods and new perioperative adjuvant therapies that will increase the rate of survival and reduce the recurrence rates for cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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