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Eur J Cancer. 2008 Nov;44(16):2340-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2008.07.004. Epub 2008 Aug 15.

Treatment of primary rectal squamous cell carcinoma by primary chemoradiotherapy: should surgery still be considered a standard of care?

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Department of Bio Surgery and Surgical Technology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK.


Rectal squamous cell carcinoma is a rare tumour accounting for only 0.25% of all rectal carcinomas, yet it carries a significant mortality and morbidity. Radical surgery has been advocated as the primary treatment modality with or without adjunctive therapies despite the proven benefits of primary chemoradiotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the anus. This report describes 7 cases of rectal squamous cell carcinoma from a single institution over a four-year period, treated with primary chemoradiotherapy. All patients demonstrated significant tumour regression, and surgery to the primary tumour was avoided in all but one of these cases. Primary chemoradiotherapy can achieve excellent local control for rectal squamous cell carcinoma with surgery employed only for unresponsive or recurrent tumours.

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