Laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer is commonly performed in China. However, compared with open surgery, the effectiveness of laparoscopic surgery, especially the long-term survival, has not been sufficiently proved.


Data of eligible patients with non-metastatic rectal cancer at Nanfang Hospital of Southern Medical University and Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine between 2012 and 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. Long-term survival outcomes and short-term surgical safety were analysed with propensity score matching between groups.


Of 430 cases collated from two institutes, 103 matched pairs were analysed after propensity score matching. The estimated blood loss during laparoscopic surgery was significantly less than that during open surgery (P =0.019) and the operative time and hospital stay were shorter in the laparoscopic group (both P <0.001). The post-operative complications rate was 9.7% in the laparoscopic group and 10.7% in the open group (P =0.818). No significant difference was observed between the laparoscopic group and the open group in the 5-year overall survival rate (75.7% vs 80.6%, P =0.346), 5-year relapse-free survival rate (74.8% vs 76.7%, P =0.527), or 5-year cancer-specific survival rate (79.6% vs 87.4%, P =0.219). An elevated carcinoembryonic antigen, <12 harvested lymph nodes, and perineural invasion were independent prognostic factors affecting overall survival and relapse-free survival.


Our findings suggest that open surgery should still be the priority recommendation, but laparoscopic surgery is also an acceptable treatment for non-metastatic rectal cancer.

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