Impact of Blood Transfusions on Recurrence and Survival After Rectal Cancer Surgery

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Abstract

Purpose:

This study was designed to determine whether type or number of blood units transfused affected short-term and long-term outcome in patients undergoing surgery for rectal cancer. The number of perioperative blood units is associated with postoperative mortality and overall survival by some authors. In addition, allogenic perioperative blood transfusion has been postulated to produce host immunosuppression and has been reported to result in adverse outcome in patients with colorectal cancer. Autologous blood transfusion might improve results compared with allogenic transfusion.

Methods:

Clinical outcome for 597 patients undergoing surgery for rectal cancer was analyzed according to their transfusion status. Results for type (autologous or allogenic) and number of blood units transfused were recorded.

Results:

Blood transfusion was associated with increased postoperative mortality at 60 days. Patients who received > 3 units had a postoperative mortality of 6 percent compared with 1 percent for patients who received 1 to 3 units and 0 percent for patients who did not require transfusions. No difference was found between patients who received autologous or allogenic blood. Blood transfusions were also associated with impaired overall survival in a univariate analysis, but this finding was not confirmed in the multivariate analysis. The number or type of blood units transfused did not influence oncologic results. Local recurrence rates, distant metastases rates, and disease-free survival were not influenced by transfusion in our patients.

Conclusions:

Increased numbers of blood units were associated with postoperative mortality. However, there is no reason, with respect to cancer recurrence or disease-free survival, to use a program of transfusion with autologous blood in patients undergoing surgery for rectal cancer.

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