Although laparoscopic resection for colon cancer has been proven safe and feasible when compared with open resection, currently no clear evidence is available regarding minimally invasive surgery for rectal cancer. This type of surgery may benefit patients by allowing fast recovery of normal dietary intake and bowel function, reduced postoperative pain, and shorter hospitalization. Therefore, minimally invasive surgeries such as laparoscopic or robot surgery have become the predominant treatment option for colon cancer. Specifically, the proportion of laparoscopic colorectal cancer surgery in Korea increased from 42.6 to 64.7% until 2013. However, laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer is more difficult and technically demanding. In addition, the procedure requires a prolonged learning curve to achieve equivalent outcomes relative to open surgery. It is very challenging to approach the deep and narrow pelvis using laparoscopic instruments. However, robotic surgery provides better vision with a high definition three-dimensional view, exceptional ergonomics, Endowrist technology, enhanced dexterity of movement, and a lack of physiologic tremor, facilitated by the use of an assistant in the narrow and deep pelvis. Recently, an increasing number of reports have compared the outcomes of laparoscopic and open surgery for colon cancer. Such reports have prompted a discussion of the outcomes of minimally invasive surgery, including robotic surgery, for rectal cancer. The aim of this review is to summarize current data regarding the clinical outcomes, including oncologic outcomes, of minimally invasive surgery for rectal cancer.
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