Oncological and quality of life outcomes following extralevator versus standard abdominoperineal excision for rectal cancer

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There is increasing and conflicting research debating the oncological benefits of extralevator abdominoperineal excision (ELAPE) compared with standard abdominoperineal excision (SAPE). However, there is very little in the literature on the long-term effects on patients' wellbeing following the two procedures. The aim of this study was to determine the oncological outcomes and long-term quality of life (QoL) of patients at two hospitals having undergone ELAPE or SAPE.


Consecutive patients with rectal cancer who underwent either ELAPE or SAPE between January 2009 and June 2015 at a single centre were analysed. Oncological outcomes were determined by histology and follow-up imaging. QoL data were obtained prospectively using the QLQ-C30 and QLQ-CR29 questionnaires.


A total of 48 patients (36 male, 12 female; 27 ELAPE, 21 SAPE) were reviewed. The mean age was 67.4 years and the median follow-up duration was 44 months (range: 6–79 months). Four patients (2 ELAPE, 2 SAPE) developed local recurrence. Rates of distant metastasis were similar (ELAPE: 11%, SAPE: 14%). There was no significant difference in mean global health status score (ELAPE: 77.3, SAPE: 65.3). Impotence was the most frequently reported problem (mean symptom scores of 89.7 and 78.8 for ELAPE and SAPE respectively).


This is the largest study with the longest follow-up period that compares QoL after ELAPE with that after SAPE. Although more radical in nature, ELAPE did not demonstrate any significant impact on QoL compared with SAPE. There was no significant difference in long-term oncological outcome between the groups. Impotence remains a significant problem for all patients and they should be well informed of this risk prior to surgery.

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