Surgery may not be necessary for all rectal cancer patients;

Patients with rectal cancer who completed neoadjuvant therapy with a clinical complete response but did not undergo rectal resection had similar 4-year survival rates as patients who chose to undergo immediate surgery, according to the results of a retrospective study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Commenting on these results, press briefing moderator Smitha S. Krishnamurthi, MD, of Case Western Reserve University, said, “These are important findings for patients with rectal cancer because removal of rectum can result in altered bowel habits or the need for permanent colostomy. This study set the bar high comparing the results of nonoperative management to the results seen in patients who had no cancer left under the microscope at time of surgery and, in this setting, the nonoperative management appears to compare favorably.”