Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of local excision in patients with T2 and T3 distal rectal cancers that have been downstaged by preoperative chemoradiation. Summary Background Data: T2 and T3 cancers treated by local excision alone are associated with unacceptably high recurrence rates. The authors hypothesized that preoperative chemoradiation might downstage both T2 and T3 lesions and significantly expand the indications for local excision. Methods: Local excision was performed after preoperative chemoradiation on patients with a complete clinical response or on patients who were either ineligible for or refused to undergo abdominoperineal resection. Local excision was approached transanally by removing full-thickness rectal wall and the underlying mesorectum. Results: From 1994 to 2000, 95 patients with rectal cancers underwent preoperative chemoradiation and surgical resection for curative intent. Of these, 26 patients (28%), 19 men and 7 women, with a mean age of 63 years (range 44-90), underwent local excision. Pretreatment endoscopic ultrasound classifications included 5 T2N0, 13 T3N0, 7 T3N1, and 1 not done. Pathologic partial and complete responses were achieved in 9 of 26 (35%) and 17 of 26 (65%) patients, respectively. Two of nine partial responders underwent immediate abdominoperineal resection. The mean follow-up was 24 months (median 19, range 6-77). The only recurrence was in a patient who refused to undergo abdominoperineal resection after a partial response. There was one postoperative death from a stroke. This treatment was associated with a low rate of complications. Conclusion: Local excision appears to be an effective alternative treatment to radical surgical resection for a highly select subset of patients with T2 and T3 adenocarcinomas of the distal rectum who show a complete pathologic response to preoperative chemoradiation.
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