Clinicopathologic features of early rectal carcinoma and indications for endoscopic treatment

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This study was undertaken to clarify the indications for endoscopic treatment.


Clinical and pathologic features of 191 lesions in 180 patients with early rectal carcinoma were examined, including 110 intramucosal carcinomas and 81 carcinomas with submucosal invasion (submucosal carcinomas). All lesions had been endoscopically or surgically resected at the National Cancer Center Hospital between 1976 and 1990.


Metastasis to regional lymph nodes (LN metastasis) was seen in 0 percent (0/39) of intramucosal carcinomas and 9.2 percent (6/65) of submucosal carcinomas in the surgically treated patients. The incidence of LN metastasis was higher for lesions larger than 10 mm in diameter, for those showing massive submucosal invasion, and for moderately differentiated adenocarcinomas. LN metastases were associated significantly with lymphatic invasion.


These results suggest that early rectal carcinomas should be resected surgically if they 1) show massive submucosal invasion, 2) are classified as moderately differentiated adenocarcinomas, and 3) are larger than 10 mm in diameter. In patients with both scanty submucosal invasion and features of well-differentiated adenocarcinoma or intramucosal carcinoma and if no other risk factors for LN metastasis are present, such as lymphatic invasion by the primary lesion, surveillance may suffice after endoscopic resection.

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