Local versus radical resection for T1-T2 rectal tumours (REC3)
Systematic review evidence[edit source]
In patients diagnosed with stage I-II rectal cancer, what is the most effective treatment strategy to achieve the best outcomes in terms of length and quality of life? (REC3)
A systematic review was performed to compare the effects of local resection (with or without radiotherapy or chemotherapy) and radical resection (with or without radiotherapy or chemotherapy) on outcomes including survival, local recurrence rates, quality of life, adverse events and stoma rates.
The search identified two relevant guidelines for which systematic reviews were conducted, published by the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) and the United Kingdom National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). A systematic review was performed to update the search results with relevant literature published after the cut-off dates.
The KCE guideline reported systematic reviews and meta-analyses of level III-1 evidence, each with a low risk of bias, examining the effects of local versus radical resections on early stage colorectal cancer related outcomes:
- a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing local resection with radical resection for patients with T1N0M0 rectal adenocarcinoma, which included results (n = 2855) from twelve level III 2 observational studies and one level II randomised controlled trial (RCT)
- a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing local excision with radical surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer, which included six level III-2 observational studies and one level II RCT.
Three level II RCTs were also included in the KCE guideline review. One of these studies was reported to be at high overall risk of bias. Assessment of bias was not reported for the other two RCTs.
The NICE guideline reported four level III-1 observational studies comparing local versus radical resection strategies. Two of these studies were reported as having a serious risk of bias, one had a very serious risk of bias, and one had no serious risk of bias.
The updated systematic review of those undertaken for the KCE and NICE guidelines identified one additional systematic review and meta-analysis, which included one RCT and six observational studies. This review had a low risk of bias.
The search strategy, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and quality assessment are described in detail in the Technical report.
Overall survival[edit source]
Two systematic reviews and meta-analyses included in the KCE guideline reported the effects of resection type on mortality and survival outcomes. A meta-analysis of 12 observational studies (n = 2,855) reported that 5-year overall survival was significantly higher for local resection patients, compared with radical resection patients (relative risk [RR] 1.46; 95% CI 1.19 to 1.77, p = 0.0002), with RRs ranging from 0.11 to 2.87 reported by each included study for the comparison of local vs radical resections.
In an analysis of seven pooled observational studies conducted in T1 patients, transanal endoscopic microsurgery was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in overall survival, compared with total mesorectal excision (odds ratio [OR] 0.87; 95% CI 0.55 to 1.38).
A retrospective observational study in patients with T1 or T2 N0M0 rectal adenocarcinoma (n = 153), reported that 3-year overall survival among T1 patients did not differ between local excision and total mesorectal excision groups (100%). Among T2 patients, there was a nonsignificant increase in 3-year overall survival in the total mesorectal excision group (90%), compared with the local excision group (76.9%).
Overall, evidence showed mixed and mostly nonsignificant differences in survival and mortality rates between local and radical resection patients.
Disease-free survival[edit source]
One meta-analysis study observed the radical resection as group having a significantly higher 5 year disease free survival in comparison to local resection group, (RR 1.54; CI 1.15-2.05, p=0.003). However, this effect may be explained by the increased use of local resection on tumours in the lower third of the rectum, which have poorer prognosis. One retrospective observational study reported that, among T1 patients, local excision was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in 3-year disease-free survival, compared with total mesorectal excision (84.21% versus 94.9%). Among T2 patients, 3-year disease-free survival was significantly lower in the local excision group, compared with the total mesorectal excision group (61.5% versus 87.5%; p = 0.44).
Local recurrence[edit source]
The majority of studies reported higher rates of local recurrence in the local resection group. One systematic review and meta-analysis reported that local resection was associated with significantly higher rates of local recurrence than radical resection (RR 2.36; 95% CI 1.64 to 3.39). Another systematic review and meta-analysis reported that local excision was associated with a nonsignificant increase in local recurrence, compared with radical excision (10.1% versus 8%; OR 1.29; 95% CI 0.72 to 2.31).
A RCT found that 5-year local recurrence rate did not differ significantly between transanal endoscopic microsurgery and total mesorectal excision groups for T1 stage patients (p = 0.94), but local recurrence was significantly higher in the transanal endoscopic microsurgery group than the total mesorectal excision (96.1% versus 94.7%; p = 0.035) for T2 patients.
Both the KCE and NICE guidelines stated that there was no good evidence to suggest that local resection does not harm by leading to increased local recurrence or metastases. Across the studies, there was generally no clear difference in recurrence rate between treatment groups, and local recurrence rates were low in both groups. The only exception was a large observational study of data from a cancer registry which reported that, among the subgroup of patients with T2 tumours, transanal endoscopic microsurgery was associated with a higher local recurrence rate than total mesorectal excision.
Postoperative complications[edit source]
The KCE guideline states that major post-operative complications and peri-operative deaths are less frequent following local resection than radical resection. Only one systematic review and one RCT examined postoperative complications as an outcome, revealing two different findings. The systematic review and meta-analysis reported that the risk of post-operative complications was significantly lower for the local resection group, compared with the radical resection group, both for the total number of all postoperative complications (RR 0.16; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.30) and for major postoperative complications (RR 0.20; 95% CI 0.10 to 0.41). In contrast, a small (n=35) comparative study observed an equal percentage of minor and major postoperative complications in both endoluminal locoregional resection and total mesorectal excision groups.
Stoma formation and quality of life[edit source]
The KCE guideline states that the benefits of local resection are less blood loss, a lower rate of permanent stoma, and shorter hospital stay. A systematic review and meta-analysis reported that the rate of lower stoma formation was lower for local resection, compared with radical resection (RR 0.17: 95% CI 0.09 to 0.30).
Evidence summary and recommendations[edit source]
|There is limited evidence comparing local versus radical excision for early-stage (T1 to T2) rectal cancer in the Australasian population.||II,
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|Evidence for overall survival showed inconsistent and mostly nonsignificant differences in relation to survival and mortality rates between local and radical resection patients.||II, III-1||, , , , , , , , |
|There were negligible differences in disease-free survival rates between local and radical resection groups.||II, III-1||, , , , , , , , |
|Local recurrence rates were higher for patients undergoing local excision, compared with radical resection, particularly among those with T2 stage tumours.
Local recurrence rates did not differ between patients undergoing transanal endoscopic microsurgery and those undergoing transanal local excision.
|II, III-1||, , , , , , , , |
|The rate of distant metastases was similar between local excision and radical resection.||II, III-1||, , , , , , , , |
|Major postoperative complications and peri-operative mortality were less frequent following local resection than radical excision.
Operative blood loss, permanent stoma rate and hospital stay were all reduced with local excision, compared with radical resection.
|II, III-1||, , , , , , , , |
|For patients with T2 tumours, consider radical resection as the first option if they are fit for surgery.||C|
Radical resection is recommended for patients with T1sm3 tumours, and for those with T2 tumours who are considered fit for radical surgery.
Application of radiotherapy before or after local excision of rectal cancer may reduce the risk of local recurrence. However, it may have an adverse effect on bowel function.
Considerations in making these recommendations[edit source]
For local excision, the rate of local recurrence increases as the depth of tumour invasion increases from T1sm1 to T1sm2 to T1sm3 to T2. T1sm3 tumours are associated with a significant increase in local recurrence, so this tumour stage may be considered the tipping point for radical resection.
Accurate pathological assessment of the specimen requires that the specimen is removed as a single specimen, regardless of the technique used. Piecemeal resection, whether performed as a surgical resection via local excision, TEMS or TAMIS, or endoscopically through endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) or endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), will result in a compromised specimen with respect to the ability to assess it pathologically.
Health system implications[edit source]
Clinical practice[edit source]
The guidance will not change the way that care is currently organised.
Implementation of this recommendation would have no significant resource implications.
Barriers to implementation[edit source]
No barriers to the implementation of this recommendation are foreseen.
Unresolved issues[edit source]
The role of neoadjuvant or neoadjuvant radiotherapy, with or without chemotherapy, as an adjunct to local excision of early rectal cancer, remains undetermined.
Determination and individualisation of approach also remains uncertain and there is a lack of evidence to make a definitive decision.
Studies currently underway[edit source]
No relevant current studies have been identified that would be expected to provide more evidence on this topic.
Future research priorities[edit source]
Further high-level studies comparing local versus radical excision for early-stage rectal cancer could provide evidence about long-term survival and recurrence.
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- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Colorectal cancer: The Diagnosis and Management of colorectal cancer. United Kingdom: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2014.
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