Ask the Doctor recently received a pertinent question about new non-surgical approaches in the treatment of Stage II and III rectal cancers. We hope this answer from Dr. Robert Madoff is helpful for others as well.
Question from Edmund:
I have rectal cancer, late Stage 2 or Stage 3. My surgeon says that there is some evidence that if radiotherapy and chemotherapy seem to have been successful, then it may be better not to operate, but he is very reluctant to go this far (that is, he wants to operate).
Do you have any information on a non-surgical approach to Stage 2/3 rectal cancer?
Response from Dr. Robert Madoff:
There is now increasing interest in the “wait and see” approach for Stage II and III rectal cancers that have a clinical complete response to chemoradiation. The approach was pioneered in Brazil by Dr. Angelita Habr-Gama. While reported results are promising, it is not at all currently standard therapy in the United States, and success of this approach is highly dependent upon stringent patient selection, very close follow up, and a very low threshold to intervene with surgery should there be any suspicion of recurrence.
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