Successful treatment of stage II or stage III rectal cancer relies on surgical removal of the tumor. However, researchers from Baylor University Medical Center wanted to know if a “minimally invasive” procedure called a laparoscopy, would be as effective as a standard or “open” operation for patients with rectal cancer.

Researchers assigned 486 patients to receive either a standard open operation or the less invasive laparoscopic approach. All procedures were performed by forty-six highly trained surgeons. Specimens from each procedure were examined to see whether all the tumor was removed (“complete resection”).

Results found that 90 percent of the patients who underwent the open operation had a complete resection, where patients who underwent the laparoscopy only had an 81 percent success rate. The researchers concluded that these findings do not support laparoscopic removal of rectal cancer.

Click here to review the full study in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.