Previous studies raised fears of a link between the duration and depth of anesthesia during surgery and an increased cancer risk.
Researchers conducting the study in Sweden analyzed data from nearly 3,000 patients undergoing surgery with the general anesthetic sevoflurane. Previous data suggested a possible connection between the inhaled anesthetic and reduced immune responses during surgery. At the time of the surgery, there were no known cases of cancer in any of the patients.
Using the duration and the depth of anesthesia for analysis as predictors of the later risk of cancer, the findings showed no association. Five years after surgery, 4.3 percent of the patients developed cancer, unrelated to anesthesia.
However, according to an IARS news release distributed by Newswise, the study revealed the rate of cancer was higher than expected – 37 percent higher than the general population. While researchers found no association with anesthesia, they were unable to determine the reason for the increase. Researchers found no evidence of patient selection bias or other medically significant reasons for the increase.
Read the full article in Anesthesia & Analgesia, under Patient Safety.