UQ research a major advance in cancer progress report

2 Feb 2017

UQ research a major advance in cancer progress report A clinical trial led by a Queensland colorectal surgeon has been identified as a major achievement in clinical cancer research and care by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG) ALaCaRT Study, headed by Associate Professor Andrew Stevenson from The University of Queensland, has been featured in the Society’s Clinical Cancer Advances 2017.

The report is an annual review of progress against cancer and emerging trends in the field.

Dr Stevenson, Director of Colorectal Surgery at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, led a trial which compared results from patients with rectal cancer undergoing either laparoscopic or open pelvic surgery.

“The results were excellent, whether done laparoscopically or open - and certainly world-class - but at the end of the day, we didn’t show laparoscopic surgery to be non-inferior to open surgery,” Dr Stevenson said.

“Of course there are significant benefits to patients from the minimally invasive approach, including less pain and less complications after surgery.

“Our findings have had a big impact on practice for rectal cancer surgery globally, particularly in the United States and Europe.”

Dr Stevenson said in simple terms for patients, it’s the difference between having a long cut from the chest to the pubic bone, or having a five centimeter incision above the bikini line.

“With the strong preference of patients for minimally invasive treatments like keyhole or robotic operations, it is important to establish whether it is as safe and reliable as traditional methods used in the past.”

Dr Stevenson said the study highlighted the importance of careful selection criteria to identify those patients suitable for laparoscopy, and for training to skill surgeons in laparoscopy.

“Following our study there has been an increase in surgery workshops, and an emphasis on developing new techniques to improve outcomes further,” he said.

The clinical trial involved 26 accredited surgeons from 24 sites in Australia and New Zealand, and 475 patients with rectal adenocarcinoma.

Dr Stevenson said it was encouraging the research is being recognized for making a difference to patients with cancer.

Research selected for inclusion in the ASCO report followed an independent assessment by an expert editorial panel.

Media: Kim Lyell, k.lyell@uq.edu.au, 0427 530647.