Laparoscopy versus laparotomy for the management of early stage endometrial cancer

  • Review
  • Intervention

Authors


Abstract

Background

Traditionally, surgery for endometrial cancer (hysterectomy with removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries) is performed through laparotomy. It has been suggested that the laparoscopic approach is associated with a reduction in operative morbidity. Over the last 10 to 15 years there has been a steady increase of laparoscopy for endometrial cancer. This review investigates the evidence of benefits and harms of laparoscopic surgery compared with laparotomy for presumed early stage endometrial cancer.

Objectives

To compare the overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) for laparoscopic surgery versus laparotomy in women with presumed early stage endometrial cancer.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Group Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) Issue 3, 2012, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL up to April 2012. We also searched registers of clinical trials, abstracts of scientific meetings, and reference lists of included studies. Trial registers we searched included NHMRC Clinical Trials Register, UKCCCR Register of Cancer Trials, Meta-Register and Physician Data Query Protocol, as well as abstracts of scientific meetings.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing laparoscopy and laparotomy for early stage endometrial cancer.

Data collection and analysis

We independently abstracted data and assessed risk of bias. Hazard ratios (HRs) were used for OS and recurrence-free survival (RFS), risk ratios (RR) for severe adverse events and the mean difference (MD) method was used for continuous outcomes in women who received laparoscopy or laparotomy and these were then pooled in random-effects meta-analyses.

Main results

Eight RCTs comparing laparoscopy with laparotomy for the surgical management of early stage endometrial cancer were identified.

All eight trials met the inclusion criteria, 3644 women were assessed at the end of the trials. Three trials assessing 359 participants with early stage endometrial cancer, found no statistically significant difference in the risk of death and disease or recurrence between women who underwent laparoscopy and those who underwent laparotomy (HR = 1.14, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.62 to 2.10) and HR = 1.13, 95% CI: 0.90 to 1.42 for OS and RFS respectively). There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of peri-operative death, women requiring a blood transfusion, and bladder, ureteric, bowel and vascular injury. However, a meta-analysis of two trials found that women in the laparoscopy group lost significantly less blood than those in the laparotomy group (MD = -106.82 mL, 95% CI: -141.59 to -72.06). A further meta-analysis of two trials, which assessed 2923 women and included one very large trial of over 2500 participants, found that the rate of severe post-operative adverse events was significantly lower in the laparoscopy group compared with the laparotomy group (RR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.37 to 0.91). The large trial did not give a breakdown of these severe post-operative adverse events into different adverse event categories. Most trials were at moderate risk of bias. Hospital stay was reported in all of the trials and results show that on average, laparoscopy was associated with a significantly shorter hospital stay.

Authors' conclusions

This review has found evidence to support the role of laparoscopy for the management of early endometrial cancer.

For presumed early stage primary endometrioid adenocarcinoma of the endometrium, laparoscopy is associated with similar overall and disease-free survival. Laparoscopy is associated with reduced operative morbidity and hospital stay. There is no significant difference in severe post-operative morbidity between the two modalities.

Plain language summary

Laparoscopy versus laparotomy for the management of presumed early stage endometrial cancer

Worldwide, cancer of the womb 'endometrial cancer' is the fifth commonest cancer among women up to 65 years of age and has a higher incidence in developed countries than developing countries. For women with cancer of the womb, removal of the womb (hysterectomy) and removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries is considered current standard treatment. Other treatments include radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Traditionally, surgery for cancer of the womb is performed through a laparotomy (open cut in abdomen).

The aim of this review was to compare the overall survival and disease-free survival for laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) surgery with laparotomy in women with presumed early endometrial cancer.

We found that laparoscopy is associated with less blood loss and earlier discharge from hospital. With regards to long term survival outcomes, treatment by keyhole surgery is comparable to open surgery (laparotomy).