Current management of locally recurrent rectal cancer

Colorectal Dis. 2011 Jul;13(7):732-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2009.02167.x. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Aim: A review of the literature was undertaken to provide an overview of the surgical management of locally recurrent rectal cancer (LRRC) after the introduction of total mesorectal excision (TME).

Method: A systematic literature search was undertaken using PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and Cochrane databases. Only studies on patients having surgery for their primary tumour after 1995, or if more than half of the patients were operated on after 1995, were considered for analysis. Studies concerning only palliative treatments were excluded.

Results: A total of 19 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Locally recurrent rectal cancer still occurred in 5-10% of the patients and was a major clinical problem, due to severe symptoms and poor survival. In most studies, 40-50% of all patients with LRRC could be expected to undergo surgery with a curative intent and of those, 30-45% would have R0 resection. Thus, only 20-30% of all patients with LRRC would have a potentially curative operation. The postoperative complication rate varied considerably, from 15 to 68%. The rate of re-recurrence varied from 4 to 54% after curative surgery. The 5-year overall survival varied between 9 and 39% and the median survival between 21 and 55 months.

Conclusion: Compared with previous studies, the proportion of potentially curative resections seems to have increased, probably due to improved staging, neoadjuvant treatment and increased surgical experience in dedicated centres, which has resulted in a tendency to improved survival.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / radiotherapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Quality of Life
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Rectal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Rectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Risk Factors