This study investigated whether total mesorectal excision (TME), when carried out at the original operation for rectal cancer, influenced the effectiveness of subsequent salvage treatment for pelvic recurrence.
Between September 1990 and January 2006, 124 patients underwent radiotherapy and salvage surgery at the Norwegian Radium Hospital for locally recurrent rectal cancer without known distant metastases. Most of the primary operations had been performed at other hospitals: 62 patients had undergone a non-TME procedure (most operations in this group of patients were carried out before 1994); and 62 patients had undergone a TME procedure (all operations in this group of patients were carried out after 1992). In the TME group, 17 patients also received radiosensitizing chemotherapy.
A lower proportion of primary abdominoperineal resection and more sensitizing chemotherapy seemed to be to the advantage of the TME group, while a higher frequency of intra-operative radiotherapy might be beneficial in the non-TME group. The 5-year survival and R0 stage achievement were 30/24% and 44/40% for non-TME/TME groups. The local re-recurrence rates were nearly identical, at around 50%, for both groups. There was no change in R stage over time.
A primary operation which includes TME does not reduce the effectiveness of subsequent salvage treatment for locally recurrent rectal cancer.