PURPOSE: When local recurrent rectal cancer is diagnosed without signs of metastases, a potentially curative resection can be performed. This study was designed to compare the results of preoperative radiotherapy followed by surgery with surgery only. METHODS: Between 1985 and 2003, 117 patients with recurrent rectal cancer were prospectively entered in our database. Ninety-two patients were suitable for resection with curative intent. Preoperative radiation with a median dosage of 50 Gy was performed in 59 patients; 33 patients did not receive preoperative radiotherapy. The median age of the patients was respectively 66 and 62 years. RESULTS: The median follow-up of patients alive for the total group was 16 (range, 4-156) months. Tumor characteristics were comparable between the two groups. Complete resections were performed in 64 percent of the patients who received preoperative radiation and 45 percent of the nonirradiated patients. A complete response after radiotherapy was found in 10 percent of the preoperative irradiated patients (n = 6). There were no differences in morbidity and reintervention rate between the two groups. Local control after preoperative radiotherapy was statistically significantly higher after three and five years (P = 0.036). Overall survival and metastases-free survival were not different in both groups. Complete response to preoperative radiotherapy was predictive for an improved survival. CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative radiotherapy for recurrent rectal cancer results in a higher number of complete resections and an improved local control compared with patients treated without radiotherapy. Preoperative radiotherapy should be standard treatment for patients with recurrent rectal cancer.

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doi.org/10.1007/s10350-004-0891-6, hdl.handle.net/1765/62122
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum
Department of Surgery

Vermaas, M., de Wilt, J., Ferenschild, F., Nuyttens, J., Marinelli, A., Wiggers, T., … Eggermont, A. (2005). Preoperative radiotherapy improves outcome in recurrent rectal cancer. Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, 48(5), 918–928. doi:10.1007/s10350-004-0891-6