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A systematic review of the literature with meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the time to locoregional recurrence after curative resection of rectal carcinoma, assuming that this time is prolonged after neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy and/or present day surgery.English and German language peer-reviewed articles published between 1980 and 2007 were selected. Twenty-five of 118 studies fulfilled the defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. For some special questions, data of the Erlangen Registry of Colorectal Carcinoma (ERCRC) from 1985 to 1997 are reported.After conventional surgery of rectal carcinoma, 75% (range 66–84%) of locoregional recurrence presented during the first 2 years after resection. Following the introduction of total mesorectal excision surgery and the use of neoadjuvant treatment, a general reduction of the frequency of local recurrence combined with a prolongation of the time to local recurrence was observed. In the practice of today, in particular after neoadjuvant long-course radiochemo-or radiotherapy, 24% (range 8–40%) of all local recurrences present later than 5 years after primary therapy. In contrast, such late local recurrences are observed in only 8% (range 5–9%) following primary surgery alone.For a definite assessment of the therapeutic results regarding local control, a minimal follow up of 7–8 years either after neoadjuvant long-course radiochemo- or radiotherapy and a minimum of 5 years after surgery alone is necessary. For patients with primary surgery followed by adjuvant therapy, it is not possible to make a clear statement.