Aim: Surgery for recurrent rectal cancer is usually traumatic and of questionable curative value. The use of radioimmunoguided surgery (RIGS) in enhancing the surgeon's assessment of the extent of disease in these patients was investigated.
Methods: Twenty-one patients diagnosed with recurrent pelvic cancer were operated using the RIGS(O)system. Preoperative assessment included CTs of chest, abdomen and pelvis as well as colonoscopy. Patients were injected with CC49, a monoclonal antibody (MoAb) labelled with 125I. Surgical exploration was followed by survey with the gamma-detecting probe.
Results: Surgical exploration identified eight intra-colorectal recurrences, nine extra-colonic pelvic recurrences and five extra-pelvic lymph node metastases. RIGS exploration confirmed all intra-colonic recurrences except for one (patient with no MoAb localization), identified 13 pelvic recurrences and 10 lymph node metastases. There were seven patients with occult findings (33%), resulting in a modified surgical procedure. Surgery included five abdomino-perineal resections, six low anterior resections, seven excisions of presacral tumour, eight total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, one pelvic exenteration and one post-exenteration. There were no operative deaths. Eight patients had minor complications, and one patient had a major complication with reoperation due to urinary leak. The mean follow-up was 18 months. Ten patients died of disease.
Conclusion: Although not curative, RIGS can help the surgeon in the decision-making process through better disease staging.
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