Radiation therapy in the management of rectal cancer.
Substantial advances have been made in the adjuvant management of patients with resectable rectal cancer. Increasing interest in patient quality of life has promoted the use of radiation therapy to enhance sphincter-preserving surgical approaches as an alternative to the standard abdominoperineal resection. Because of the suggestion of enhanced sphincter preservation with preoperative therapy and the potential advantage of decreased acute morbidity, randomized trials comparing preoperative and postoperative adjuvant combined modality therapy are ongoing. Recent progress in adjuvant postoperative treatment regimens relates to the integration of systemic therapy to radiation, and redefining the techniques for both modalities. The incorporation of improved radiation planning may reduce treatment-related bowel toxicity. The integration of novel chemotherapeutic agents in the adjuvant therapy of rectal cancer remains an active area of investigation.
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