How We Treat Localized Rectal Cancer-An Institutional Paradigm for Total Neoadjuvant Therapy

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Nov 21;14(22):5709. doi: 10.3390/cancers14225709.


Total neoadjuvant therapy (TNT)-the neoadjuvant employment of radiotherapy (RT) or chemoradiation (CRT) as well as chemotherapy (CHT) before surgery-may lead to increased pathological complete response (pCR) rates as well as a reduction in the risk of distant metastases in locally advanced rectal cancer. Furthermore, increased response rates may allow organ-sparing strategies in a growing number of patients with low rectal cancer and upfront immunotherapy has shown very promising early results in patients with microsatellite instability (MSI)-high/mismatch-repair-deficient (dMMR) tumors. Despite the lack of a generally accepted treatment standard, we strongly believe that existing data is sufficient to adopt the concept of TNT and immunotherapy in clinical practice. The treatment algorithm presented in the following is based on our interpretation of the current data and should serve as a practical guide for treating physicians-without any claim to general validity.

Keywords: CRT; TNT; chemoradiotherapy; microsatellite instability; mismatch-repair-deficiency; organ-sparing; radiotherapy; rectal cancer; total neoadjuvant therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.