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Surgery. 2007 Jan;141(1):67-75. Epub 2006 Sep 14.

Characteristics of recurrence and surveillance tools after curative resection for colorectal cancer: a multicenter study.

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Study Group of the Japanese Society for Cancer of the Colon and Rectum (JSCCR) on Postsurgical Surveillance of Colorectal Cancer: Department of Surgery I, National Defense Medical College, Tokyo, Japan.



The aim of this study was to clarify the characteristics of recurrence and the effectiveness of surveillance tools after curative resection for colorectal cancer.


We enrolled 5230 consecutive patients (stage I, 1367; stage II, 1912; stage III, 1951) who underwent curative resection at 14 hospitals from 1991 to 1996. All patients were followed up intensively, and their outcomes were investigated retrospectively.


Of the 5230 patients, 906 developed recurrence. The recurrence rates of stage I, II, and III cancers were 3.7%, 13.3%, and 30.8%, respectively (P < .0001). The curves of the cumulative appearance rate of recurrence in stage II and III patients showed a rapid increase for the first 3 years. Recurrence after 5 years was less than 1% in each stage. Clinical visits combined with measurements of tumor markers detected the majority of recurrences except in the case of lung metastasis. In contrast, 43.4% of hepatic recurrences were detected by liver imaging, and 48.4% of pulmonary recurrences were noted by chest x-ray. The 5-year survival rates after primary colorectal surgery in patients who underwent resection for recurrence were better than in those without resection: 55% vs 11% in hepatic recurrence, 68% vs 13% in pulmonary recurrence, and 48% vs 22% in local recurrence (all P < .001).


It is useful to take these characteristics of recurrence into account in the management of patients after curative resection for colorectal cancer and in the setting of clinical trial for follow-up after curative resection for colorectal cancer.

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