April 12, 2023 – 10:06 PM
The research into the Wait-and-See method in patients with rectal cancer yields positive results. By waiting after applying combination treatment and refraining from surgery as much as possible, patients experience a good quality of life. The study also shows that the quality of life of this non-operated group of patients is better compared to patients who did have to undergo surgery. These findings by surgeons from the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and Maastricht UMC+ have been published in the leading scientific journal JAMA Surgery.
About 3,000 patients are diagnosed with rectal cancer every year. Then the tumor is in the last part of the large intestine. Treatment often consists of pre-treatment with radiotherapy, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy, followed by surgery to remove the entire rectum. In some patients, however, this pre-treatment is so successful that no tumor is visible anymore. In these patients, a wait-and-see policy can be followed as an alternative to surgery, the so-called Wait-and-See policy.
Quality of life
For several years now, the data of these patients has been collected in the Netherlands in a national study in which 20 hospitals are participating. The hope was that these patients have a better quality of life than patients who do have to undergo surgery. “Fortunately, this expectation has now been confirmed in this study,” says researcher Petra Custers. “Although these patients may also have some disturbance of bowel, urinary and/or sexual function from the radiotherapy, these complaints are clearly less common than if they had had surgery. Finally, these patients are also less likely to have a stoma.”
Lead researcher oncological surgeon Stephanie Breukink on the application of the findings from the study: “The results of this study are important to discuss in the consulting room during the education of patients with rectal cancer so that they have a realistic expectation of the Wait-and-See policy . These results are also important when setting up studies into new treatment strategies for patients with rectal cancer, because quality of life deserves more and more attention in addition to the chance of a cure.”
The scientific article Long-term Quality of Life and Functional Outcome of Patients With Rectal Cancer Following a Watch-and-Wait Approach was published last week in the leading medical-scientific journal JAMA Surgery: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/ fullarticle/2803111?resultClick=1
Source: Maastricht UMC+