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The aim of this study is to evaluate long-term oncologic outcomes of robotic surgery for rectal cancer compared with laparoscopic surgery at a single institution.Robotic surgery is regarded as a new modality to surpass the technical limitations of conventional surgery. Short-term outcomes of robotic surgery for rectal cancer were acceptable in previous reports. However, evidence of long-term feasibility and oncologic safety is required.Between April 2006 and August 2011, 217 patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery for rectal cancer with stage I–III disease were enrolled prospectively (robot, n = 133; laparoscopy, n = 84). Median follow-up period was 58 months (range, 4–80 months). Perioperative clinicopathologic outcomes, morbidities, 5-year survival rates, prognostic factors, and cost were evaluated.Perioperative clinicopathologic outcomes demonstrated no significant differences except for the conversion rate and length of hospital stay. The 5-year overall survival rate was 92.8% in robotic, and 93.5% in laparoscopic surgical procedures (P = 0.829). The 5-year disease-free survival rate was 81.9% and 78.7%, respectively (P = 0.547). Local recurrence was similar: 2.3% and 1.2% (P = 0.649). According to the univariate analysis, this type of surgical approach was not a prognostic factor for long-term survival. The patient's mean payment for robotic surgery was approximately 2.34 times higher than laparoscopic surgery.No significant differences were found in the 5-year overall, disease-free survival and local recurrence rates between robotic and laparoscopic surgical procedures. We concluded that robotic surgery for rectal cancer failed to offer any oncologic or clinical benefits as compared with laparoscopy despite an increased cost.