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The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that a transanal excisional approach can be successfully used in most cases of large, benign, rectal villous adenomas with acceptable rates of recurrence and complications in comparison with historic controls. A retrospective review of all cases of benign, large, rectal villous adenomas at this institution from 1975 to 1985 was performed. A total of 122 patients had large, benign, rectal villous adenomas excised. All except five were treated by transanal excision. Thirty-eight percent of lesions were more proximal than 8 cm from the anal verge. The average follow-up was 55 months. Twenty-seven percent of patients were treated for residual disease after a known incomplete initial treatment or an adenoma at the same location within 6 months of the original treatment. Thirty percent of patients were treated for recurrent adenoma 6 months after complete initial treatment. Two patients (1.7 percent) with recurrences were found to have invasive carcinoma. Both patients had excisional therapy, and one had additional radiation therapy for these carcinomas. Ten postoperative hemorrhages and two perforations occurred as symptomatic or serious complications. This renders a 10 percent complication rate for the study group, which is lower than reported by others using the Kraske or transsphincteric approach to the rectum. Because of the expected higher recurrence rate, regular follow-up is necessary for this type of therapy. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that transanal excision of large, benign, rectal villous adenomas can be a safe and effective method of treatment.