A five-year study on Laparoscopic or keyhole surgery to remove bowel tumors has found that the treatment is safe and should be followed for all patients undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer.

The research by the University of Leeds found that besides being safe, keyhole surgery also ensured that the cancer does not return. The results of keyhole surgery match that of those who underwent conventional, open surgery. Patients also spend lesser time in hospital and recover more quickly after the surgery.

The results are the latest from the CLASICC trial - a multicenter study funded by the Medical Research Council that involved around 400 patients with colon cancer and another 400 with rectal cancer.Patients from 27 hospitals in the UK were covered during the study. It is published in the November issue of the British Journal of Surgery.

"There is still a body of surgeons who are skeptical about laparoscopic colorectal cancer surgery and particularly laparoscopic rectal surgery. These long-term follow-up results should now help to convince any remaining skeptics that the minimally invasive technique is safe and effective for most patients with colorectal cancer," said David Jayne, Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the University of Leeds and lead author of the paper.

"Patients too should be reassured that any short-term gains from minimally invasive surgery have not been at the expense of compromised long-term outcomes," he said.

"Surgery remains the most important of the methods of treatment of bowel cancer and this study confirms that tumors can be removed equally well by keyhole surgery as by standard surgery. We must, however, continue to strive for surgical excellence through audit of both types of surgery and by exploration of new techniques, such as robotic surgery," said Professor Phil Quirke, Yorkshire Cancer Research Centenary Professor of Pathology at the University of Leeds, and co-author of the paper.