Prospective audit following the introduction of short-course preoperative radiotherapy for rectal cancer.

Research paper by S S Lele, D D Radstone, J J Eremin, R R Kendal, K B KB Hosie

Indexed on: 22 Dec '99Published on: 22 Dec '99Published in: British Journal of Surgery


The value of introducing a short course of preoperative radiotherapy before operation for rectal cancer is still subject to debate.One hundred consecutive patients, of mean age 68 (range 29-87) years undergoing pre- operative radiotherapy for rectal cancer between January 1997 and December 1998 at two radiotherapy centres were audited prospectively.The time from referral to radiotherapy was 33 (11-74) days and from radiotherapy to operation 5 (1-42) days. There was a higher than expected anastomotic leak rate (15 per cent) and perineal wound infection rate (18 per cent). Patients waiting more than 7 days were more likely to suffer perineal wound breakdown: 15 per cent (n = 39) versus 30 per cent (n = 10).The high anastomotic leak and perineal wound infection rates suggest that the introduction of preoperative radiotherapy combined with total mesorectal excision should be audited carefully or performed as part of the CRO7 trial. Presented to the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland in St Helier, Jersey, June 1998