BACKGROUND: Local excision might represent an alternative to total mesorectal excision for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer who achieve a major or complete clinical response after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy.
METHODS: Between August 2005 and July 2011, 63 patients with mid-low rectal adenocarcinoma who had a major/complete clinical response after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy were enrolled in a multicenter prospective phase 2 trial and underwent transanal full thickness local excision. The main endpoint of this study was to evaluate the 5- and 10-year overall, relapse-free, local, and distant relapse-free survival, which were calculated by applying the Kaplan-Meier method. The rate of patients with rectum preserved and without stoma were also calculated.
RESULTS: Of 63 patients, 38 (60%) were male and 25 (40%) were female, with a median (range) age of 64 (25-82) years. At baseline, the following clinical stages were found: cT2, n = 21 (33.3%); cT3, n = 42 (66.6%), 39 (61.9%) patients were cN+. At a median (range) follow-up of 108 (32-166) months, the estimated cumulative 5- and 10-year overall survival, relapse-free survival, local recurrence-free survival, and distant recurrence-free survival were 87% (95% CI 76-93) and 79% (95% CI 66-87), 89% (95% CI 78-94) and 82% (95% CI 66-91), both 91% (95% CI 81-96), and 90% (95% CI 80-95) and 86% (95% CI 73-93), respectively. Overall, 49 (77.8%) patients had their rectum preserved, and 54 (84.1%) were stoma-free.
CONCLUSION: In highly selected patients, the local excision approach after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy is associated with excellent long-term outcomes, high rates of rectum preservation and absence of permanent stoma.