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Colorectal Dis. 2009 Mar;11(3):245-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2008.01636.x. Epub 2008 Jul 15.

Preoperative neo-adjuvant therapy for curable rectal cancer--reaching a consensus 2008.

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  • 1Department of Colorectal Surgery, Lancashire Teaching Hospital Trust, Preston, UK.



Our aim was to determine the range of neo-adjuvant therapy the multidisciplinary team (MDT) currently offers patients with curable (M(0)) rectal cancer.


A senior oncologist from each of the four oncology centres in north Wales and the north-west of England (approximate target population 8 million - Glan Clwyd, Clatterbridge, Christie and Preston) reviewed his/her understanding of the current evidence of neo-adjuvant therapy in rectal cancer. Then a representative from each centre was asked to identify which of three neo-adjuvant options (no neo-adjuvant therapy, short-course radiotherapy 25 Gy over five fractions and long-course chemoradiotherapy) he/she would use for a rectal cancer in the upper, middle or lower third of the rectum staged by magnetic resonance imaging as being T(2)-T(4) and/or N(0)-N(2).


In all cases of locally advanced rectal cancer (T(3a) N(1)-T(4)), oncologists from the four oncology centres recommended long-course chemoradiotherapy before rectal resection. This consensus was maintained for cases of lower third T(3a) N(0) cancers. Thereafter, the majority of patients with rectal cancer are offered adjuvant short-course radiotherapy.


Neo-adjuvant therapy is less likely to be offered if the tumour is early (T(2), N(0)) and/or situated in the upper third of the rectum.

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