Preoperative radiotherapy combined with total mesorectal excision (TME) has provided excellent local control in the treatment of rectal cancer. This study is a review of patients treated at our regional cancer center from 1998 to 2004. The results were compared with a similar study carried out in our region from 1988 to 1998 to determine any changes in treatment methods, recurrence rates, and survival.
A retrospective review of 448 patients treated with definitive surgery for rectal cancer was conducted. Patient factors analyzed included sex, age, type of surgery, and adjuvant strategy. Tumor factors analyzed included level, stage, and grade. The presence of local recurrence was recorded and overall survival was determined.
The local recurrence rate was 8.3% compared with 12.7% in the previous study. Patients treated with preoperative radiotherapy had a recurrence rate of 3.7%. The type of surgical therapy had no significant effect on local recurrence. There was no significant change in overall survival between the present study and the previous one.
Preoperative radiotherapy is used more frequently in our region and has resulted in a decrease in the local recurrence rate compared to our previous retrospective review. There was no change in local recurrence seen in those patients treated with operative management alone. This study supports the use of preoperative radiotherapy in the management of rectal cancer.