OBJECTIVE. The authors analyzed the effect of blood transfusions on the pattern of colorectal cancer recurrence. BACKGROUND. Retrospective studies suggest that blood transfusions are associated with a poor prognosis in patients who undergo operations for colorectal malignancies. In a previously published, randomized trial, it was investigated whether autologous blood transfusions could overcome this putative detrimental effect. However, this did not appear to be the case. METHODS. In the current study, the authors analyzed the patterns of recurrence in 420 patients who underwent curative operations for colorectal cancer. RESULTS. Patients who did not require transfusions (N = 143) had significantly better disease-free survival than those who did need transfusions (N = 277); percentages at 4 years were 73% and 59%, respectively (p = 0.001). No difference was found between both groups in comparing cumulative percentages of patients having metastases; percentages at 4 years were 25% in the group that did not undergo transfusion and 27% in the transfused group. The percentage of cases having local recurrence, however, was significantly increased (p = 0.0006) in the transfused group as compared with the group that did not undergo transfusion; percentages at 4 years were 20% and 3%, respectively. The groups of patients receiving only allogeneic, only autologous, or both types of transfusions all had a significantly higher incidence of local recurrence than the patients who did not receive transfusions, but no differences were found between these three groups. CONCLUSIONS. These findings suggest that the association between blood transfusions and prognosis in colorectal cancer is a result of the circumstances that necessitate transfusions, leading to the development of local recurrences, but not of distant metastases.

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Annals of Surgery
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Busch, O., Hop, W., Marquet, R., & Jeekel, H. (1994). Blood transfusions and local tumor recurrence in colorectal cancer. Evidence of a noncausal relationship. Annals of Surgery. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/8574