Newswise — One of last year's major achievements in clinical cancer research and care was a study led by James Fleshman, MD, colorectal surgeon on the medical staff and chief of surgery at Baylor University Medical Center, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Fleshman's research was selected for inclusion in Clinical Cancer Advances 2017, the society's annual review of progress against cancer and emerging trends in the field. The study, which found that laparoscopic surgery for stage II and stage III rectal cancer patients may not be a superior option to open surgery, is featured as one of the year's top clinical cancer advances. It was originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and will also be included in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"I'm honored that our work was considered among the major advances in cancer research last year," Dr. Fleshman said. "We're pleased to contribute to ongoing trials that will help give cancer patients the best possible outcome and chance for survival."

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive method that involves passing an instrument through small incisions to remove a cancerous tumor. It's associated with less pain and shorter recovery times than traditional open surgery, which involves large incisions in the abdomen. In the clinical trial conducted by Dr. Fleshman and his team, rates of complete tumor removal were found to be lower among patients with advanced rectal cancer who underwent laparoscopic surgery than among those who underwent open surgery – 82 percent compared to 87 percent.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S. Tumor removal can be complicated, due to the complex pelvic anatomy.

"Our team of highly-skilled laparoscopic rectal surgeons sought to investigate concerns that minimally invasive surgery may not be the best option for some patients, and the results surprised us," Dr. Fleshman said. "Ultimately, more studies are needed to fully establish the benefits of the laparoscopic technique for patients with advanced rectal cancer."

About Baylor Scott & White HealthFormed from the 2013 merger between Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare, the system referred to as Baylor Scott & White Health is the largest not-for-profit health care system in the state of Texas. With total assets of $10.8 billion* and serving a population larger than the state of Georgia, Baylor Scott & White Health has the vision and resources to provide its patients continued quality care while creating a model system for a dramatically changing health care environment. The system now includes 48 hospitals, more than 1,000 access points, 5,500 active physicians, and 44,000 employees, plus the Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance — a network of clinical providers and facilities focused on improving quality, managing the health of patient populations, and reducing the overall cost of care. For more information visit:

* based on unaudited 2014 fiscal year statements

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