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Surgery. 1998 Oct;124(4):612-7; discussion 617-8.

Total mesorectal excision is not necessary for cancers of the upper rectum.

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Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, OH 44195, USA.



The technical aspects of surgery of the upper rectum (10 to 15 cm from the anal verge) and sigmoid colon are similar, but a change in technique is required for surgery of the lower rectum (< 10 cm). The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of the treatment of upper rectal cancer (UR), in which total mesorectal excision (TME) was not performed, with outcomes of sigmoid colon cancers (S) and lower rectal cancers (LR).


Between 1980 and 1990, 891 patients were treated with curative intent for sigmoid (n = 225) and rectal cancer (UR = 229; LR = 437). The Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards analyses were used to compare outcomes.


The risk of local recurrence alone, local and distant recurrence, death as a result of cancer, or any recurrence or death as a result of cancer was 3.5, 2.7, 2.1, and 1.9 times higher for patients with LR than for patients with UR, but the risk was not increased for UR relative to S.


The outcome of treatment for UR is the same as for S and differs favorably from that for LR. UR should be treated by the same technique as S.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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