, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 975-981
Date: 30 Jun 2005

Is Minimal Access Surgery for Cancer Associated with Immunologic Benefits?

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Minimal-access surgical techniques have been shown to be beneficial to patients in terms of shorter convalescence, reduced pain, and improved cosmesis. Although systemic immune function is better preserved following laparoscopic procedures when compared with their respective open approaches, CO2 pneumoperitoneum may significantly affect local (i.e., infra-abdominal) cellular immunity by reducing regional macrophage function. Results to date are conflicting with regard to the impact of closed and open methods on intraabdominal immunity. Impaired cellular immunity after CO2 pneumoperitoneum may have significant undesirable intra-abdominal effects on tumor surveillance after oncological surgery; however, at present, there is no clinical evidence to support this position. The VATS techniques avoid the use of CO2 insufflation, which may offer some advantages from the immune function perspective over laparoscopic procedures accomplished with CO2 pneumoperitoneum. Better preservation of early postoperative cellular immune function and attenuated disturbance in the inflammatory mediators are likely contributing factors to the clinical benefits that follow laparoscopic surgery and VATS. Larger multi-center randomized trials are needed to confirm the potential benefits of minimal-access surgery on patient survival after cancer surgery. Future research should focus on the effects of minimal-access surgery on other mediators (such as MMP-9, IGFBP-3, IL-12, IL-17, and IL-23) that may be important in tumor cell dissemination, deposition, and propagation in the early postoperative period. Furthermore, additional searches for other factors or mediators, heretofore unrecognized, should be carried out. Such studies will, we hope, increase our knowledge and understanding of the impact of surgery on immune and other physiologic functions.