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The authors analyzed the incidence of rectal cancer in patients with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) after an abdominal colectomy.The treatment of choice for a newly diagnosed patient with HNPCC with colon cancer is an abdominal colectomy. The incidence of rectal cancer after abdominal colectomy in HNPCC is not known.A questionnaire was mailed to all International Collaborative Group on HNPCC members to identify patients in whom rectal cancer developed after total, subtotal, or completion colectomy. Statistics were performed using the log-rank test, Kaplan-Meier method, and Cox's proportional hazards model.Rectal cancer developed in 8 (11%) of 71 patients a median of 158 months (range, 38-282 months) from their primary procedure. Of these eight patients, adenomas in the rectal mucosa developed in five at risk either before (4) or synchronous (1) with the diagnosis of rectal cancer. At the time of diagnosis of rectal cancer, six of eight patients were being observed. Age at first procedure and whether the patient was under surveillance were the only significant variables (p < 0.05) in the multivariate analysis in terms of rectal cancer risk. The risk of developing rectal cancer was estimated to be 3% every 3 years after abdominal colectomy for the first 12 years.The risk of rectal cancer in patients with HNPCC after an abdominal colectomy is approximately 12% at 12 years. Age at first surgical procedure and surveillance correlated with rectal cancer risk. Aggressive endoscopic surveillance of the rectum should be performed after abdominal colectomy.