Although resection of locally recurrent rectal cancer has been associated with improved survival, clinical outcomes after such repeat surgery have been incompletely characterized.Methods:
From 1997 to 1999, 105 consecutive patients requiring repeat surgery for locally recurrent rectal cancer were identified. Patients were observed for a minimum of 2 years or until death.Results:
An operation was performed with palliative intent in 23% of patients. Before repeat surgery, 79% of the palliative-intent patients had symptoms: 21% bleeding, 42% obstruction, and 21% pain. After repeat surgery with palliative intent, improvement was noted in 40% with bleeding, 70% with obstruction, and 20% with pain. Additional or recurrent symptoms were noted in 87% during follow-up. Seventy-seven percent of patients had an operation with nonpalliative intent. Before repeat surgery, 57% of nonpalliative patients had symptoms, with 32% experiencing bleeding, 11% obstruction, and 19% pain. After repeat surgery with nonpalliative intent, initial improvement was noted in 88% with bleeding, 78% with obstruction, and 40% with pain. During follow-up, symptoms arose in 37% of the initially asymptomatic patients, and additional or recurrent symptoms were seen in 63% of those previously symptomatic.Conclusions:
Although symptomatic relief is associated with repeat surgery, the recurrence or development of alternate symptoms makes a completely asymptomatic clinical course uncommon.