Adjuvant chemotherapy for ypT0N0M0 rectal cancer following chemoradiotherapy and total mesorectal excision

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The management of adenocarcinoma of the rectum is a dynamic field in oncology. The multidisciplinary approach to the management of this disease continues to evolve in each segment of its trimodality treatment. New scheduling regimens and radiosensitizing agents continue to emerge. Although total mesorectal excision continues to be the operation of choice for rectal cancers, what is done before and after surgery continues to evolve to maximize an ideal oncologic outcome with minimal morbidity. The achievement of a pathological complete response [pCR (i.e. ypT0N0)] in a fraction of patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiation poses an interesting management dilemma. The cohort of patients who can achieve a pCR have superior oncologic outcomes compared to nonresponders. The present review addresses the need for adjuvant therapy in patients with a pCR. We discuss the evolution of the role of adjuvant therapy in patients with rectal cancer and the studies addressing the elimination of this strategy in all patients with rectal cancer with a goal of determining the current evidence that might result in the omission of adjuvant therapy for patients with ypT0N0 rectal cancer after chemoradiation and total mesorectal excision.

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