OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to analyze data from an international collaboration, and ascertain prognostic indicators that inform clinical decision-making and practices regarding the role of pelvic exenteration for locally advanced primary rectal cancer (LARC).
BACKGROUND: With improved national screening programs fewer patients present with LARC. Despite this, select cohorts of patients require pelvic exenteration. To date, the majority of outcome data are from single-center series.
METHODS: Anonymized data from 14 countries on patients who had pelvic exenteration for LARC between 2004 and 2014 were accumulated. The primary endpoint was overall survival. The impact of resection margin, nodal status, bone resection, and use of neoadjuvant therapy (before exenteration) on survival was evaluated using multivariable analysis.
RESULTS: Of 1291 patients, 778 (60.3%) were male with a median (range) age of 63 (18-90) years; 78.1% received neoadjuvant therapy. Bone resection en bloc was performed in 8.2% of patients (n = 106), and 22.6% (n = 292) had resection combined with flap reconstruction. Negative resection margin (R0 resection) was achieved in 79.9%. The 30-day postoperative mortality was 1.5%.The median overall survival following R0, R1, and R2 resection was 43, 21, and 10 months (P < 0.001) with a 3-year survival of 56.4%, 29.6%, and 8.1%, respectively (P < 0.001); 37.8% of patients experienced one or more major complication. Neoadjuvant therapy increased the risk of 30-day morbidity (P < 0.012). Multivariable analysis identified resection margin and nodal status as significant determinants of overall survival (other than advanced age).
CONCLUSIONS: Attainment of negative resection margins (R0) is the key to survival. Neoadjuvant therapy may improve survival; however, it does so at the increased risk of postoperative morbidity.