Sphincter-saving surgery in patients with rectal cancer treated by radiotherapy and transanal endoscopic microsurgery: 10 years' experience

M Guerrieri, F Feliciotti, M Baldarelli, P Zenobi, A De Sanctis, G Lezoche, E Lezoche
Digestive and Liver Disease 2003, 35 (12): 876-80

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is a technique which allows minimally invasive full-thickness local excision of rectal tumours with perirectal fat dissection.

METHODS: Our study examined a group of 137 selected patients with rectal cancer treated by TEM excision combined with preoperative radiotherapy. The definitive histology was as follows: 37 patients with pT1 stage rectal cancer (27%), 59 with pT2 (43%) and 23 with pT3 (17%). In 18 (13%) patients who underwent a full dose of radiotherapy and TEM, the pathologist did not find cancer cells in the specimen (pT0).

RESULTS: Eleven (8%) patients developed minor complications, whereas three (2%) developed major complications. The perioperative mortality was nil. At the mean follow-up of 46 months (range 6-115 months), we observed seven (5%) local recurrences. Of those, three patients died from systemic spread of the disease at follow-up. The disease-free survival rate in T0 and T1 patients was 100%. The disease-free survival rates in T2 and T3 patients were 81 and 59%, respectively, at a mean follow-up of 46 months.

CONCLUSIONS: The application of preoperative radiotherapy and TEM in the treatment of rectal tumours appears feasible, safe and effective in the present study, with optimal preservation of anal sphincter function.

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