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Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Aug;3(4):383-94. doi: 10.1586/egh.09.33.

Multidisciplinary treatment of resectable rectal cancer.

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Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC, USA.


This review identifies evidence that influences current practices in the multidisciplinary treatment and shapes future directions in the treatment of resectable rectal cancer. Recent advances in surgery, radiotherapy and systemic chemotherapy have provided measurable improvements in disease control, functional outcomes and quality of life for patients with rectal cancer. However, controversies remain regarding the optimum delivery of adjuvant therapies. Preoperative radiation either with or without concurrent chemotherapy demonstrates lower recurrence, with minimal survival benefit. Currently, the use of neoadjuvant standard fractionation chemoradiation versus short-course radiation without chemotherapy is controversial and under investigation. New combinations of chemotherapeutic agents and targeted therapies are also being evaluated. In addition, criteria for patient selection are being re-evaluated to determine the relative benefit of modern treatments, so that we may better tailor adjuvant therapy recommendations to be patient-specific. Recommendations for adjuvant treatments of rectal cancer are continuing to evolve; however, survival has been only marginally affected despite low incidence of local recurrence. Future trials should aim to address the role of adjuvant therapies utilizing new criteria, such as function, quality of life and impact on development of metastatic disease.

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