In a nutshell
The aim of this study was to evaluate the urinary and sexual function of patients following 2 types of rectal cancer surgery. The study found that in men, robotic surgery resulted in better urinary and sexual function.
Rectal cancer can be treated by surgical removal of the tumor. Therapy for rectal cancer has improved with new surgical techniques. Some patients receive chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor so complete removal of the tumor is possible. During rectal surgery, some patients experience damage to urinary or sexual function.
There are different types of surgery to remove the rectal tumor. Laparoscopic rectal cancer surgery (LRCS), also known as keyhole surgery, involves a surgeon manually removing the tumor using a camera to guide them. Robotic rectal cancer surgery (RRCS) involves the surgeon using a computer to move the surgical tools to remove the tumor. In RRCS, the surgeon has a better range of motion with the tools and can get more accurate images with the camera.
Both LRCS and RRCS have been effective for the treatment of rectal cancer. However, the impact of LRCS or RRCS on urinary or sexual function is not clear.
Methods & findings
This study evaluated data from 1286 patients with rectal cancer in 10 clinical trials. 672 patients had LRCS. 614 patients had RRCS. Patients reported urinary and sexual function using questionnaires 6 and 12 months after surgery.
Men who had RRCS reported significantly better urinary function than those who had LRCS at 6 and 12 months. In women, there was no difference in urinary function reported between groups.
Men who had RRCS reported significantly better sexual function at 6 months after surgery. However, there was no difference in reported sexual function between groups after 12 months. In women, results regarding sexual function tended to favor the RRCS group.
The bottom line
The study concluded that male patients with rectal cancer who underwent RRCS had better urinary and sexual function than those who had LRCS.
The fine print
Treatment was not randomized in all studies. The follow-up time was short. Not all studies included female patients. The questionnaires used for female patient reporting or urinary function were not consistent.
Published By :
British Journal of Surgery
Mar 12, 2021
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