Medline: 10391155

European Journal of Surgery 165(5): 410-420, 1999.

Total mesorectal excision (TME) with or without preoperative radiotherapy in the treatment of primary rectal cancer: prospective randomised trial with standard operative and histopathological techniques.

Kapiteijn E, Kranenbarg EK, Steup WH, et al.


To document local recurrence in primary rectal cancer when standardised techniques of surgery, radiotherapy, and pathology are used, and to investigate whether the local recurrence rate after total mesorectal excision permits the omission of adjuvant short term preoperative radiotherapy. DESIGN: Prospective randomised study. SETTING: Dutch (n = 80), English (n = 1), German (n = 1), Swedish (n = 9), and Swiss (n = 1) hospitals. SUBJECTS: The first 500 randomised Dutch patients with primary rectal cancer. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Local recurrence, survival, operation-related factors, specific pathological tumour characteristics, short and long term morbidity, and quality of life.

Between January 1996 and April 1998, 871 Dutch and 94 other patients were randomised. Our feasibility analysis shows that cooperation between and within the participating disciplines goes well. With regard to the surgical part, this can be confirmed by the large number of operations attended by consultant surgeons (58%). The number of abdominoperineal resections appeared to be low (30%), as did the percentage of lateral margins involved (13%). The rate of adverse effects of radiotherapy was acceptable. Apart from a larger operative blood loss and a higher infective complication rate in the irradiated group, no significant differences were found with regard to morbidity and mortality between the randomised groups.

The accrual of our trial is going well and it is feasible; short term preoperative radiotherapy is safe even in combination with TME.

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Dr. G. Quade