"Choose Wisely" in Rectal Cancer a Retrospective Study Indicates

The retrospective analysis of 145 patients with stage 2-3 rectal cancer found that the "wait and watch" approach, instead of surgery, in patients treated with chemotherapy might work just as well when measuring survival as an outcome.

A retrospective review of clinical data on 145 patients with stage 2-3 rectal cancer indicates that patients whose tumors completely disappeared after treatment with chemoradiation and systemic chemotherapy (known as a complete response) had similar four-year survival rates regardless of whether they had immediate surgery or pursued a “watch and wait” surveillance approach. The findings add to growing evidence suggesting that, with frequent follow-up exams after initial chemotherapy and radiation, select patients with rectal cancer can achieve excellent outcomes while avoiding the risks and complications of rectal surgery. The study will be presented at the upcoming 2015 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposiumin San Francisco.

“We believe that our results will encourage more doctors to consider this watch and wait approach in patients with clinical complete response as an alternative to immediate rectal surgery, at least for some patients,” said senior study author Philip Paty, MD, a surgical oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY. “From my experience, most patients are willing to accept some risk to defer rectal surgery in hope of avoiding major surgery and preserving rectal function.”

Link to the ASCO press release: http://bit.ly/1DVC03T