Anastomotic leakage as a risk factor for the long-term outcome after curative resection of colon cancer

F. Marra, T. Steffen, N. Kalak, R. Warschkow, I. Tarantino, J. Lange, M. Zünd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Long-term outcome for curative colon cancer surgery may be impaired by anastomotic leakage, but most studies regard colon and rectal cancer patients as one group. The aim of this study was to determine whether anastomotic leakage following potentially curative resection for colon cancer is a risk factor for postoperative mortality and for long-term survival. Patients and methods: Medical records of a cohort of 440 consecutive patients undergoing 445 curative resections for explicit colon cancer with primary anastomosis above the peritoneal reflection were reviewed. Therefore patients with rectal cancer were not included. Diagnosis of leakage was made by clinical features or abdominal CT-scans. Results: The study population consisted of 266 men and the mean age was 68.6 years. Median follow-up time was 66.5 months. Anastomotic leakage occurred in 12 patients. Four of these died within 30 days after surgery compared to 15 of the remaining 428 patients without leakage (p <0.001). The 5-year overall survival rate was 25% in patients with anastomotic leakage compared to 61.2% in those without leakage (p <0.001). Excluding 30-day mortality, respective values were 33.3 and 63.7% (p = 0.02). Conclusion: Although anastomotic failure after colon cancer surgery is rare, it is a very severe complication that not only impairs the perioperative morbidity and mortality but also significantly influences the long-term outcome negatively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1060-1064
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Anastomotic leakage
  • Colon cancer
  • Intraperitoneal anastomosis
  • Postoperative mortality
  • Survival rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Surgery


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