Patterns of local recurrence in rectal cancer; a study of the Dutch TME trial.

M. Kusters, C.A. Marijnen, C.J. van de Velde, H.J. Rutten, M.J. Lahaye, J.H. Kim, R.G. Beets Tan, G.L. Beets

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AIM OF THE STUDY: In patients from the Dutch TME trial patterns of local recurrence (LR) in rectal cancer were studied. The purpose was to reconstruct the most likely mechanisms of LR and the effect of preoperative radiotherapy. METHODS: 1417 patients were analyzed; 713 were randomized into preoperative radiotherapy and total mesorectal excision (RT + TME), 704 into TME alone. Of the 114 patients with LR, the subsites of LR were determined and related to tumor and treatment factors. RESULTS: Overall 5-year LR-rate was 4.6% in the RT + TME group and 11.0% in the TME group. Presacral local recurrences occurred most in both groups. Radiotherapy reduced anastomotic LR significantly, except when after low anterior resection (LAR) distal margins were less than 5 mm. Abdominoperineal resection (APR) mainly resulted in presacral LR. Even after resection with a negative circumferential resection margin, LR-rates were high. Thirty percent of the patients had advanced tumors, which resulted in 58% of all LRs. Lateral LR comprised 20% of all LR. Presacral and lateral LR resulted in a poor prognosis, in contrast to anterior or anastomotic LRs with a relatively good prognosis. CONCLUSIONS: RT reduces LR in all subsites and is especially effective in preventing anastomotic LR after LAR. APR-surgery mainly results in presacral LR, which may be prevented by a wider resection. In the TME trial many advanced tumors were included, rather requiring chemoradiotherapy instead of RT. Currently, with good imaging techniques, better selection can take place. Especially lateral LR might be a problem in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-476
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Local recurrence
  • Rectal carcinoma
  • Abdominoperineal resection
  • Low anterior resection
  • Distal margin
  • Preoperative radiotherapy

Cite this

Kusters, M., Marijnen, C. A., van de Velde, C. J., Rutten, H. J., Lahaye, M. J., Kim, J. H., Beets Tan, R. G., & Beets, G. L. (2010). Patterns of local recurrence in rectal cancer; a study of the Dutch TME trial. European Journal of Surgical Oncology, 36(5), 470-476.