Aim: To analyze, retrospectively in a population-based study, the management and survival of patients with recurrent rectal cancer initially treated with a macroscopically radical resection obtained with total mesorectal excision (TME).
Methods: All rectal carcinomas diagnosed during 1998 to 2000 and initially treated with a macroscopically radical resection (632 patients) were selected from the Amsterdam Cancer Registry. For patients with recurrent disease, information on treatment of the recurrence was collected from the medical records.
Results: Local recurrence with or without clinically apparent distant dissemination occurred in 62 patients (10%). Thirty-two patients had an isolated local recurrence. Ten of these 32 patients (31%) underwent radical re-resection and experienced the highest survival (three quarters survived for at least 3 years). Eight patients (25%) underwent non-radical surgery (median survival 24 mo), seven patients (22%) were treated with radio- and/or chemotherapy without surgery (median survival 15 mo) and seven patients (22%) only received best supportive care (median survival 5 mo). Distant dissemination occurred in 124 patients (20%) of whom 30 patients also had a local recurrence. The majority (54%) of these patients were treated with radio- and/or chemotherapy without surgery (median survival 15 mo). Twenty-seven percent of these patients only received best supportive care (median survival 6 mo), while 16% underwent surgery for their recurrence. Survival was best in the latter group (median survival 32 mo).
Conclusion: Although treatment options and survival are limited in case of recurrent rectal cancer after radical local resection obtained with TME, patients can benefit from additional treatment, especially if a radical resection is feasible.