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Colorectal Dis. 2013;15(10):e569-75. doi: 10.1111/codi.12314.

Nonresectional management of colorectal cancer: multidisciplinary factors that influence treatment strategy.

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  • 1The John Goligher Colorectal Unit, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK.



Surgical resection of a primary colorectal tumour remains the treatment of choice and offers the best chance of cure. However, in some patients, resection is not achieved. There are few published data on this group of patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate this group to determine the frequency and reasons for nonresection, and to analyse the subsequent management.


A retrospective review was performed using a Trust colorectal cancer database and individual electronic patient records. Patients who presented to our unit with a diagnosis of primary colorectal cancer managed by nonresectional intervention over a 2-year period were identified. Data analysed included: patient demographics, radiological staging, histological data, nonsurgical therapy, tumour-specific complications and requirement for palliative surgical procedures.


A total of 671 patients were identified with primary colorectal cancer. One hundred and fifty-six (23%) were managed without resection, following discussion at a multidisciplinary team meeting. Of 156 patients, histological confirmation was obtained in 131 (84%), with the remainder of the diagnoses being based on unequivocal radiological imaging and/or operative findings. Complete radiological staging was achieved in 150 (96%) patients. The predominant reasons for nonresectional management were: advanced metastatic disease (66%), significant medical comorbidity (19%) and patient refusal (6%). Fifty-nine of 156 patients (38%) subsequently received palliative chemotherapy, 9 (6%) radiotherapy and or 9 (6%) combination chemo-radiotherapy. Seventy-nine (51%) of 156 patients received no therapy other than best supportive palliative care, for reasons including significant medical comorbidity (62%) and patient refusal (19%). Following the initial decision not to resect, 68 (44%) patients did at some point undergo some form of palliative intervention (stenting, stoma or bypass) for obstruction - 44 (28%) electively and 24 (15%) as an emergency.


Nonresectional management of patients with primary colorectal cancer is not an uncommon outcome following discussion at a multidisciplinary meeting. In these patients, nonsurgical palliation should be employed when necessary, though is frequently limited by comorbidity. However, subsequent surgical palliation is still required in a substantial proportion of cases.

Colorectal Disease © 2013 The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland.


Non-resection; cancer; colorectal

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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