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Annals of Surgical Oncology

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For Patients with Early Rectal Cancer, Does Local Excision Have an Impact on Recurrence, Survival, and Quality of Life Relative to Radical Resection?

Amy L. Halverson MD, Arden M. Morris MD, Robert K. Cleary MD, George J. Chang MD
Colorectal Cancer
Volume 26, Issue 8 / August , 2019



The most appropriate treatment for early-stage rectal cancers is controversial. The advantages of local excision regarding morbidity and function must be weighed against poorer oncologic efficacy. This study aimed to clarify further the role for local excision in the treatment of rectal cancer.


A systematic review of Medline, SCOPUS, and Cochrane databases was conducted. Relevant studies were selected using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Data addressing five key questions about outcomes of local versus radical resection of rectal cancer were analyzed.


The 16 studies identified by this study were mostly retrospective, and none were randomized. Local excision was associated with fewer complications and better functional outcome than radical resection. Of 12 studies evaluating local recurrence, 6 showed a higher local recurrence rate among patients who underwent local excision. Two additional studies showed no increase in local recurrence rate among patients who underwent local excision of T1 lesions but a significantly higher local recurrence rate among those who underwent local excision of T2 lesions. High histologic grade, angiolymphatic invasion, perineural invasion, and depth within submucosa were features associated with a higher risk of local recurrence. In 7 of 15 studies, long-term survival was reduced compared with that of patients who underwent radical resection.


Although local excision for early-stage rectal cancer is associated with increased local recurrence and decreased overall survival compared with radical resection, local excision may be appropriate for select individuals who have T1 tumors with no adverse pathologic features.

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