Radiological staging of rectal cancer in a resource limited setting

Current guidelines on rectal cancer (RC) management recommend pre-operative MRI for loco-regional staging and CT for staging of metastases. This allows appropriate selection of patients for chemo-radiotherapy (CRT). However, MRI is not freely available in many low-income countries. We assessed the status of pre-operative imaging for RC in Sri Lanka and evaluated the performance of CT in RC staging.

A pre-tested interview-administered questionnaire was used to assess the pre-operative use of MRI and CT in RC. CT findings from 37 RC patients were then compared with histopathology findings. Of the 64 surgeons interviewed, 57 (89.1%) did not request an MRI for their RC patients. Reasons cited included limited availability and long waiting times due to competing health needs. A CT was requested by all. In RC, the overall accuracy of CT for T staging was 43.2% and 29.7% of T1–T2 tumours were over-staged as T3. The overall accuracy of CT for regional lymph node staging was 70.3%. In summary, CT alone is not suitable for RC staging in any setting. It leads to over-staging and patients may thus receive unnecessary CRT. Steps must be taken to improve access to pre-operative MRI among Sri Lankan RC patients.

Impact of Delaying Surgery After Chemoradiation in Rectal Cancer: Outcomes From a Tertiary Cancer Centre in India

Delaying surgery after chemoradiation is one of the strategies for increasing tumor regression in rectal cancer. Tumour regression and PCR are known to have positive impact on survival.
It’s a retrospective study of 161 patients undergoing surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (NCRT) for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Patients were divided into three categories based on the gap between NCRT and surgery, i.e., 12 weeks. Tumor regression grades (TRG), sphincter preservation, post-operative morbidity-mortality and survival were evaluated.
Sphincter preservation was significantly less in >12 weeks group compared to the other two groups (P=0.003). Intraoperative blood loss was significantly higher in >12 weeks group compared to 8-12 weeks group (P=0.001).There was no difference in major postoperative morbidity and hospital stay among the groups. There was no significant correlation between delay and TRG (P=0.644). At Median follow up of 49.5 months the projected 3-year overall survival (OS) and disease free survival (DFS) were not significantly different among the 3 groups (OS: 79.5% vs. 83.3% vs. 76.5%; P=0.849 and DFS 50.4% vs. 70.6% vs. 62%; P=0.270 respectively).
Delaying surgery by more than 12 weeks causes more blood loss but no change in morbidity or hospital stay. Increased time interval between radiation and surgery does not improve tumor regression and has no effect on survival.

Propensity score matching comparison of laparoscopic versus open surgery for rectal cancer in a middle-income country: short-term outcomes and cost analysis.

Laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer is associated with improved postoperative outcomes compared to open surgery; however, economic studies have yielded contradictory results. The aim of this study was to compare the clinical and economic outcomes of laparoscopic versus open surgery for patients with rectal cancer.Propensity score matching analysis was performed in a retrospective cohort of patients who underwent elective low anterior resection for rectal cancer treatment by laparoscopic and open surgery in a single Brazilian cancer center. Matched covariates included age, gender, body mass index, pTNM stage, American Society of Anesthesiologists score, type of anesthesia, neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, and interval between neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and index surgery. The clinical and economic outcomes were evaluated. The follow-up period was within 30 days of the index procedure. The clinical outcomes were reoperation, postoperative complications, operative time, length of stay in the intensive care unit, and postoperative hospital stay. For economic outcomes, a cost analysis was used to compare the costs.Initially, 220 patients were evaluated. After propensity score matching, 100 patients were included in the analysis (50 patients in the open surgery group and 50 patients in the laparoscopic surgery group). There were no differences in patients’ baseline characteristics. Operative time was longer for laparoscopic surgery (247 minutes vs 285 minutes, P=0.006). There were no significant differences in other clinical outcomes. The hospital costs were similar between the two groups (Brazilian reais 21,233.15 vs Brazilian reais 21,529.28, P=0.115), although the intraoperative costs were higher for laparoscopic surgery, mainly owing to the surgical devices and the theater-related costs. The postoperative costs were lower for laparoscopic surgery, owing to lower intensive care unit, ward, and reoperation costs.Laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer is not costlier than open surgery from the health care provider’s perspective, since the intraoperative costs were offset by lower postoperative costs. Open surgery tends to have a longer length of stay.