Background: This study determined survival and recurrence rates following curative resection of rectal cancer without radiotherapy. Methods: This was a retrospective review of the Mayo Clinic database of patients with rectal cancer treated with curative intent using surgery alone from 1990 to 2006. Patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiation therapy and those who had any postoperative radiotherapy were excluded. Details were collected from the database and patient records using a protocol approved by the institutional review board. Results: Some 655 consecutive patients with rectal cancer treated with curative intent using surgery alone were identified; 397 had stage I disease, 125 stage II and 133 stage III. Four hundred and nine patients underwent anterior resection (AR) and 246 abdominoperineal resection (APR). Median follow-up was 62 months. The 5-year rate of local recurrence was 4·3 per cent, disease-free survival 90·0 per cent and cancer-specific survival 91·5 per cent. Stage-specific and all-stage disease-free survival did not differ significantly between AR and APR. The 5-year cumulative local recurrence rate was lower following AR than APR (3·6 versus 5·5 per cent; P = 0·321). There were only two patients with positive margins and type of operation was not significant on multivariable analysis. Conclusion: Well-performed, standardized APRs have similar local recurrence to AR. Radiation therapy may not confer much additional benefit.
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