Aim: Despite advances in rectal cancer treatment, local recurrence (LR) remains a significant problem. To select high-risk patients for different treatment options aimed at reducing LR, it is essential to identify LR risk factors.
Method: Local recurrence and survival rates of 4153 patients registered 1995-1997 in the Swedish Rectal Cancer Registry were analysed. LR risk factors were analysed by multivariate methods. For LR patients the registry was validated and additional data retrieved.
Results: The 5-year overall and cancer-specific survival rates were 45% and 62% respectively. LR was registered in 326 (8%) patients. After R0-resections for tumours in TNM stages I-III, LR developed in 10% of tumours at 0-5 cm, 8% at 6-10 cm and 6% at 11-15 cm above the anal verge. Preoperative radiotherapy (RT) reduced the LR rate irrespective of height [0-5 cm: OR 0.50 (0.30-0.83), 6-10 cm: OR 0.42 (0.25-0.71), and 11-15 cm: OR 0.29 (0.13-0.64)]. Patients without preoperative RT had significantly higher LR risk after rectal perforation [OR 2.50 (1.48-4.24)], and almost significantly decreased LR risk when rectal washout was performed [OR 0.65 (0.43-1.00)]. Preoperative RT prolonged time to LR but did not significantly influence the survival among LR patients. LR was an isolated tumour manifestation in 103 (39%) patients with validated LR.
Conclusion: Preoperative RT should be considered for rectal cancer also in the upper third of the rectum. Intraoperative perforation should be avoided, and rectal washout is indicated as valuable. Follow-up for the detection of isolated LR is important. Extended follow up should be considered for patients treated with RT.
© 2010 The Authors. Colorectal Disease © 2010 The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland.