Prospective evaluation of local excision for small rectal cancers

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Most data on local excisions for rectal cancer are based on retrospective studies. We review the results of a prospective registry of patients eligible for local excision of rectal cancer using a transanal, transsphincteric, or transcoccygeal technique combined with multimodality therapy for lesions penetrating the muscularis propria (T2) or perirectal fat (T3).


Patients with lesions less than 4 cm in diameter and less than 10 cm from the dentate line, with no evidence of distant metastases or invasion into the perirectal fat, were eligible for local excision. Patients with invasion into the muscularis propria (T2) or greater (T3) received adjuvant chemoradiation therapy.


Forty-eight patients have been followed prospectively. Average age is 63 years. Thirty-three patients underwent a transanal excision. Fifteen patients underwent either a transsphincteric or technique excision. There was no perioperative mortality. Pathology revealed 1 Tis, 21 T1, 21 T2, and 5 T3 cancers. Mean follow-up is 40.5 months. Cancerrelated overall mortality was 4 percent. Overall local or distant recurrence rate was 8 percent(4/48). Recurrence appeared to be related to presence of a positive margin or aggressive histology (lymphatic invasion). Local recurrences were treated with salvage therapy.


Local excision can be used selectively for small rectal cancers, with minimum morbidity. Recurrence rates are low (8 percent). Patients with either a positive margin or lymphatic invasion need to be considered for further therapy, including abdominoperineal resection, even with T1 lesions. Adjuvant chemoradiation appears to be a benefit for all T2 or T3 cancers.

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