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Colorectal Dis. 2009 Feb;11(2):191-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2008.01560.x. Epub 2008 May 3.

Chemo-radiotherapy: an alternative to surgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum--report of six patients and literature review.

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Northwick Park and St Mark's Hospitals, Harrow, Middlesex, UK.



Since 1943 [1], only 45 patients of squamous cancer of the rectum have been reported in the published reports and the largest series to date consists of 12 patients. Reports suggest that the primary treatment is surgical resection but, in the light of nonsurgical advances in the treatment of anal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), we present a review of the literature and report six patients treated by chemoradiation therapy (CRT).


A literature search was undertaken using the keywords squamous cell, epidermoid, basaloid and cloacagenic and cancer of rectum and colon to provide evidence for this discussion from studies of surgery, radiation therapy and CRT in rectal SCC. A prospective database of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, UK was searched from 1995 to 2005 for patients diagnosed with pure SCC of the rectum.


Six patients with histologically confirmed primary SCC of the rectum were treated with primary combination chemo-radiotherapy according to protocols used for SCC of the anal canal over a 15-year period. Surgery was avoided in four, and they remain disease-free on follow-up.


Primary CRT, as currently utilized in anal cancer, can be extended to primary SCC of the rectum.

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