Avoiding Unnecessary Major Rectal Cancer Surgery by Implementing Structural Restaging and a Watch-and-Wait Strategy After Neoadjuvant Radiochemotherapy

J. F. Huisman, I. J. H. Schoenaker, R. M. Brohet, O. Reerink, H. van der Sluis, F. C. P. Moll, E. de Boer, J. C. de Graaf, W. H. de Vos tot Nederveen Cappel, G. L. Beets*, H. L. van Westreenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Background Pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) is found in 15-20% of patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. A watch-and-wait (W&W) strategy has been introduced as an alternative strategy to avoid surgery for selected patients with a clinical complete response at multidisciplinary response evaluation. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the multidisciplinary response evaluation by comparing the proportion of patients with pCR since the introduction of the structural response evaluation with the period before response evaluation. Methods This retrospective cohort study enrolled patients with locally advanced rectal cancer who underwent nCRT between January 2009 and May 2018, categorizing them into cohort A (period 2009-2015) and cohort B (period 2015-2018). The patients in cohort B underwent structural multidisciplinary response evaluation with the option of the W&W strategy. Proportion of pCR (ypT0N0), time-to-event (pCR) analysis, and stoma-free survival were evaluated in both cohorts. Results Of the 259 patients in the study, 21 (18.4%) in cohort A and in 8 (8.7%) in cohort B had pCR (p = 0.043). Time-to-event analysis demonstrated a significant pCR decline in cohort B (p <0.001). The stoma-free patient rate was 24% higher in cohort B (p <0.001). Conclusion Multidisciplinary clinical response evaluation after nCRT for locally advanced rectal cancer led to a significant decrease in unnecessary surgery for the patients with a complete response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2811-2818
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number5
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021



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