Nonoperative management of squamous-cell carcinoma of the rectum

Dis Colon Rectum. 2015 Jan;58(1):60-4. doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000000218.


Background: Radiochemotherapy without surgical resection has become the treatment of choice for anal squamous-cell carcinoma. The optimal treatment for rectal squamous-cell carcinoma is not well established.

Objective: The purpose of this work was to assess the efficacy of nonoperative strategies in the management of primary rectal squamous-cell carcinoma.

Design: We retrospectively reviewed data from all of the patients with documented rectal squamous-cell carcinoma who were treated with conservative strategies in a single institution. Concomitant radiochemotherapy was proposed to all except 1 patient. The remaining patient was treated by radiotherapy alone given his impaired functional status. All of the patients were treated with conformal or intensity-modulated radiation therapy. Surgical resection was reserved for persistent disease or relapse.

Setting: This study was conducted in a single tertiary institution.

Main outcome measures: After a mean follow-up of 56 months, 2 patients experienced relapse and no patients died.

Results: Eleven patients were included in the series. The clinical response to radiotherapy was complete for 7 patients. The remaining 4 patients underwent salvage surgery. The pathologic response was incomplete for 2 of the 4 patients. One recurrence occurred outside the field of radiotherapy and was successfully treated by radiotherapy. The second was a local recurrence, which occurred on a patient who was treated with radiotherapy alone.

Limitations: The number of patients included in this retrospective series was limited because of the rarity of the disease. Patients were treated with nonhomogeneous conservative strategies because of modification in the therapeutic strategy for anal squamous-cell carcinoma and of the adaptation of the treatment to patient comorbidities and functional status.

Conclusions: This series demonstrates that good results can be obtained by using a rectum-conserving strategy. Close follow-up should be maintained, with the use of salvage surgery reserved only for persistent disease or relapse (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1,

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Chemoradiotherapy*
  • Colonoscopy
  • Endosonography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome