What are the options for adjuvant care in the treatment of rectal cancer?

Updated: Apr 06, 2021
  • Author: Burt Cagir, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Although radical resection of rectum is the mainstay of therapy, surgery alone has a high recurrence rates. The local recurrence rate for rectal cancers treated with surgery alone is 30-50%. Rectal adenocarcinomas are sensitive to ionizing radiation. Radiation therapy can be delivered preoperatively, intraoperatively, or postoperatively and with or without chemotherapy.

Tumor stage, grade, number of lymph node metastases, lymphovascular involvement, signet cell appearance, achievement of negative radial margins, and distance from the radial margin are important prognostic indicators of local and distant recurrences. Low anterior (LAR) or abdominal-perineal resection (APR) in conjunctions with total mesorectal excision (TME) should be performed for optimal surgical therapy.

A study by Margalit et al found that patients older than 75 years had difficulty tolerating combined modality chemotherapy to treat rectal cancer. They required early termination of treatment, treatment interruptions, and/or dose reductions. [65]

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