Published online Aug 7, 2013. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i29.4764
Revised: May 2, 2013
Accepted: May 16, 2013
Published online: August 7, 2013
AIM: To compare quality of life (QoL) outcomes in Chinese patients after curative laparoscopic vs open surgery for rectal cancer.
METHODS: Eligible Chinese patients with rectal cancer undergoing curative laparoscopic or open sphincter-preserving resection between July 2006 and July 2008 were enrolled in this prospective study. The QoL outcomes were assessed longitudinally using the validated Chinese versions of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 and QLQ-CR38 questionnaires before surgery and at 4, 8, and 12 mo after surgery. The QoL scores at the different time points were compared between the laparoscopic and open groups. A higher score on a functional scale indicated better functioning, whereas a higher score on a symptom scale indicated a higher degree of symptoms.
RESULTS: Seventy-four patients (49 laparoscopic and 25 open) were enrolled. The two groups of patients were comparable in terms of sociodemographic data, types of surgery, tumor staging, and baseline mean QoL scores. There was no significant decrease from baseline in global QoL for the laparoscopic group at different time points, whereas the global QoL was worse compared to baseline beginning at 4 mo but returned to baseline by 12 mo for the open group (P = 0.019, Friedman test). Compared to the open group, the laparoscopic group had significantly better physical (89.9 ± 1.4 vs 79.2 ± 3.7, P = 0.016), role (85.0 ± 3.4 vs 63.3 ± 6.9, P = 0.005), and cognitive (73.5 ± 3.4 vs 50.7 ± 6.2, P = 0.002) functioning at 8 mo, fewer micturition problems at 4-8 mo (4 mo: 32.3 ± 4.7 vs 54.7 ± 7.1, P = 0.011; 8 mo: 22.8 ± 4.0 vs 40.7 ± 6.9, P = 0.020), and fewer male sexual problems from 8 mo onward (20.0 ± 8.5 vs 76.7 ± 14.5, P = 0.013). At 12 mo after surgery, no significant differences were observed in any functional or symptom scale between the two groups, with the exception of male sexual problems, which remained worse in the open group (29.2 ± 11.3 vs 80.0 ± 9.7, P = 0.026).
CONCLUSION: Laparoscopic sphincter-preserving resection for rectal cancer is associated with better preservation of QoL and fewer male sexual problems when compared with open surgery in Chinese patients. These findings, however, should be interpreted with caution because of the small sample size of the study.
Core tip: This prospective nonrandomized study demonstrates that laparoscopic sphincter-preserving resection for rectal cancer is associated with better preservation of quality of life (QoL) and fewer male sexual problems when compared with open surgery in Chinese patients in the first postoperative year. Our study has several strengths. First, our study only focused on Chinese patients undergoing curative sphincter-preserving rectal resection, thus minimizing the impact of other potential confounders on the QoL assessment. Second, all our questionnaires were administered by a single research assistant and were completed by the patients during clinic visits. Therefore, we achieved 100% compliance at different time points.