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Zentralbl Chir. 1999;124(5):428-35.

[Rectal carcinoma. Optimizing therapy by partial or total mesorectum removal].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für Viszerale und Transplantationschirurgie, Universität Bern.


The role of total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer treatment is one of the most exciting findings in surgical oncology of the recent years. The patient's prognosis largely depends on the surgical quality of rectal resection. The excision of the cancer bearing rectum has to follow very precisely along the mesorectal fascia by sharp dissection without damaging the mesorectum itself. This technique reduces the local recurrence rate to below 10% and allows long-term survival in two thirds of all patients. Rectal cancers of the middle and lower third of the rectum need to be treated by total mesorectal excision down to the muscular pelvic floor, the ones of the upper third and the sigmoideo-rectal junction are appropriately treated by partial mesorectal excision down to 5 cm below the tumor. No additional survival benefit may be expected when pelvic lymphadenectomy has been performed. The direct tumor spread along the bowel wall and the lymphatic tumor spread in a caudal direction are uncommon and late findings in rectal cancer disease. Low and ultralow rectal carcinomas may therefore be treated by a sphincter preserving procedure respecting a safety margin of at least 1 to 2 cm. Thus, continence preserving surgery may be performed in over 80% of patients suffering from rectal cancer without compromising long-term outcome.

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