A new study has shown that the same laparoscopic surgery used to treat intestinal disorders could be useful as a rectal cancer treatment.
Research at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Centre in the US has shown that the minimally invasive surgery can be as useful as open surgery in dealing with the condition.
However, this type of operation usually comes with the added benefit of quicker recovery times, smaller scars and less pain.
According to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Centre chief of colon and rectal surgery Dr Jeffrey Milsom, minimally invasive techniques have been difficult to master as success depends on restoring continence, as well as the complete removal of the cancerous tissue and repair of the rectum.
Initial studies also show that patients undergoing such procedures are left more exposed to recurrences of their cancer, as it is more difficult to remove all tumour cells.
Despite this, more than 90 per cent of patients in the study were able to undergo the surgery safely, a 91 per cent survival rate after five years and 73 per cent completely free from cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, bleeding and altered bowel habits can be seen as symptoms of rectal or distal colon cancers.