For the past several decades, disease-related outcomes, particularly local recurrence rate, in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer have significantly improved as a result of advancement of surgical technique and implementation of neoadjuvant chemoradiation. However, distant metastasis remains unresolved, being a significant cause of cancer death. To focus on micrometastases early in the course of multimodal treatment, delivering systemic chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant setting is emerging. Also, driven by patient demand and interest in preserving quality of life, upfront chemotherapy prior to surgery serves as a strategy for organ preservation in the management of rectal cancer. Herein, currently available literature on different methods and strategies of the multimodal approach is critically appraised.
Keywords: chemoradiation; chemotherapy; neoadjuvant therapy; organ preservation; rectal cancer.