A systematic review of local excision followed by adjuvant therapy in early rectal cancer: are pT1 tumours the limit?

J. E. Cutting, S. E. Hallam, M. G. Thomas, D. E. Messenger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: Total mesorectal excision remains the cornerstone of treatment for rectal cancer. Significant morbidity means local excision may be more appropriate in selected patients. Adjuvant therapy reduces local recurrence and improves survival; however, there is a paucity of data on its impact following local excision, which this systematic review aims to address.

METHODS: A systematic search of the MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane databases using validated terms for rectal cancer, adjuvant therapy and local excision was performed. Included studies focused on local excision with adjuvant therapy for adenocarcinoma of the rectum. Primary outcome measures were local recurrence, survival and morbidity. Studies providing neoadjuvant therapy or local excision alone were excluded.

RESULTS: Twenty-two studies described 804 patients. Indications for local excision included favourable histology, patient choice and comorbidities. T1, T2 and T3 tumours accounted for 35.1%, 58.0% and 6.9% of cases, respectively. The most frequent local excision technique was transanal excision (77.7%). Adjuvant therapy included long-course chemoradiation or radiotherapy. Median follow-up was 51 months (range 1-165). The pooled local recurrence was 5.8% (95% CI 3.0-9.5) for pT1, 13.8% (95% CI 10.1-17.9) for pT2 and 33.7% (95% CI 19.2-50.1) for pT3 tumours. The overall median disease-free survival was 88% (range 50%-100%) with a pooled overall morbidity of 15.1% (95% CI 11.0-18.7).

CONCLUSIONS: This area remains highly relevant to modern clinical practice. The data suggest that local excision followed by adjuvant therapy can achieve acceptable long-term outcomes in high-risk pT1 tumours, but not in T2 tumours and above in whom radical surgery should be offered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-863
Number of pages10
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number10
Early online date10 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • adjuvant therapy
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • local excision


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