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Current Imaging Modalities Understage One-Third of Patients with Stage I Rectal Cancer: Implications for Treatment Selection

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Accurate preoperative clinical staging is essential to optimize the treatment of rectal cancer. Primary surgical resection is typically indicated for stage I disease, whereas neoadjuvant therapy is recommended for stages II and III. The objective of this study is to examine the accuracy of clinical staging using current imaging modalities in predicting pathologic stage and, thus, selecting appropriate treatment. Adult patients with nonmetastatic rectal cancer who underwent primary surgical resection were identified from the National Cancer Database between 2006 and 2014. Data on clinical and pathologic staging was obtained. Kappa index was used to determine the correlation between clinical and pathologic staging. A total of 13,175 patients were identified. The correlation between clinical and pathologic staging was 69 per cent for stage I (31% upstaged) (Kappa 0.54, P < 0.001). One-third of patients who were clinically staged as stage I, and were therefore treated with primary surgical resection, had pathologic stage II or III disease. Based on their clinical staging, those patients did not receive the neoadjuvant therapy recommended by present guidelines. Where accurate clinical staging is in doubt, oncologists should carefully examine the quality of staging modality and perhaps consider multimodal imaging using both endorectal ultrasound and MRI.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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