The implementation of bowel cancer screening programs has led to a rise in the incidence of early rectal cancer. The combination of increased incidence and the growing interest in organ-sparing treatment options has led to an amplified importance of local excision techniques in treatment strategies for early rectal cancer. In addition, developments in new technologies of single-port surgery have popularized surgical techniques. Although local treatment of early rectal cancer seems promising, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary and awareness of the oncological robustness is warranted to enable shared decision-making. This review illustrates the position of surgical local excision in the treatment of early rectal cancer and reflects on its role in current and future clinical practice.