Treatment of locally recurrent rectal cancer

J. Garcia-Aguilar, J. W. Cromwell, C. Marra, S. H. Lee, Robert D Madoff, David A Rothenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: This study was designed to analyze the outcome for patients with isolated local recurrence after radical treatment of rectal cancer and to identify predictors of curative resection. METHODS: The medical records of 87 patients who developed isolated local recurrence after curative radical surgery for primary rectal cancer were retrospectively reviewed. Survival rates from the time of recurrence were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Tumor stage and histology, patient characteristics, and treatment variables were analyzed using logistic regression to identify, predictors of curative surgery. RESULTS: Symptomatic treatment alone or chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy was provided to 23 patients (26 percent), and surgical exploration was performed in 64 patients. In 22 patients (25 percent), the tumor was considered unresectable at surgery (n = 13) or was resected for palliation with gross or microscopic positive margins (n = 9). In 42 patients (48 percent), curative-intent resection was performed. The only independent predictors of resectability were younger age at diagnosis, earlier stage of the primary tumor, and initial treatment by sphincter-saving procedure. There was no difference in survival between patients who had no surgery and those who had palliative surgery. The estimated five-year survival rate for patients who had curative-intent resection was better than for those who had no surgery, or palliative surgery (35 vs. 7 percent; P = 0.01). Of the 42 patients who underwent curative-intent resection, 14 (33 percent) developed a second recurrence at a mean of 15 ± 11 months after reoperation. Twenty-five percent of patients developed major complications. CONCLUSIONS: Salvage surgery for locally recurrent rectal cancer may be helpful in a selected group of patients. The stage and treatment of the primary tumor may help to identify patients with the best chance for curative-intent resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1743-1748
Number of pages6
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Local recurrence
  • Rectal cancer


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