Purpose: Minimal invasive surgery for mid and low rectal cancer after neoadjuvant long-course chemoradiotherapy (LCRT) can be challenging. The aim of our study was to compare outcomes of laparoscopic and robotic resections in mid and low rectal cancers after LCRT. Methods: Between Jan 2006 and Dec 2010, all patients who underwent robotic or laparoscopic resections for mid and low rectal cancers after LCRT were identified from a prospective database. These patients received treatment (5FU-based chemotherapy, 50.4 Gy radiotherapy), as they were T3 or T4 and/or node + ve. Patients in the two groups were compared with respect to demographics, clinical safety, and oncological outcomes. Results: One hundred thirty-eight patients underwent rectal cancer resection after LCRT, either robotic (n = 74) or laparoscopic (n = 64). The patients in both groups were comparable in terms of demographics, distance of tumor from anal verge, and type of procedures. There were four (6.3 %) conversions in laparoscopic group and one (1.4 %) in the robotic group (p = 0.183). The morbidity rates in the laparoscopic and robotic group were 26.6 % and 16.2 %, respectively (p = 0.137). With a median follow up of 3 years, the local recurrence in the laparoscopic and robotic group was four (6.3 %) and two (2.7 %), respectively (p = 0.420). The 3-year overall survival rate for laparoscopic and robotic group was 92.1 and 90.0 %, respectively (p = 0.803). The 3-year disease-free survival was also comparable, 78.8 % (laparoscopic) versus 77.7 % (robotic) (p = 0.390). Conclusion: With a median follow up of 3 years, robotic surgery for mid and low rectal cancer was associated with oncological outcomes comparable to laparoscopic surgery.
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