The impact of a patient’s gender on the development of anastomotic leak (AL) in rectal cancer patients following total mesorectal excision (TME) remains controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between patients’ gender and the risk of AL.


All rectal cancer patients following TME with a primary anastomosis during the study period from 2010 to 2014 were examined. Comparisons of the post-operative AL incidence rate between male and female patients were performed.


Of all patients examined (n = 956), 587 (61.4%) were males and 369 (38.6%) were females. Male patients were more likely to have a history of smoking and drinking alcohol, but less likely to have a history of abdominal surgery compared to female patients. A higher incidence rate of pre-operative bowel obstruction and larger tumor volume in male patients was observed in our study. Of all the patients, 81 (8.5%) developed post-operative AL. More male patients (n = 62, 10.6%) suffered from AL than females (n = 19, 5.1%) (P = 0.003). Multivariate logistic regression analyses confirmed the association between male gender and AL [odds ratio (OR): 2.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.37–4.23, P = 0.002]. Similar results were also obtained in patients who underwent laparoscopic TME (OR: 2.11, 95% CI: 1.15–3.89, P = 0.016).


Male patents were found to have an increased risk for AL following TME with a primary anastomosis. A temporary protecting stoma may help to protect the anastomosis and lessen the risk for AL especially in male patients.

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