Self-expanding metal stents can help patients with an obstruction from advanced colon cancer avoid surgery.
When a large tumor blocks the left side of the colon, surgeons can remove the tumor or put in a stent to move bowel contents around the obstruction. According to a recent study, patients live as long with either technique but spend less time in the hospital and have fewer complications with stents.
Australian surgeons reviewed 55 consecutive cases of left-sided obstruction due to colorectal cancer. Twenty-nine patients had stenting, 26 underwent surgery to remove the obstruction. Those with stents lived for a median 14 months compared to 11 months for the surgery group.
Stents required an median 4 days in the hospital compared to 13.5 days for those having surgery. There were 2 complications from stents and 14 from surgery. Four patients who had stents eventually required surgery.
Ian Faragher and his colleagues concluded,
Colonic stenting provides effective and durable palliation for patients with incurable, obstructing adenocarcinomas of the left colon. It can be performed with less morbidity than palliative surgery, and offers similar long-term survival.
SOURCE: Faragher et al., Colorectal Disease, Volume 10, Number 7, September 2008.