Recent advances in cancer medicines have changed rectal cancer therapies improve. Surgery can save lives, but it can also cause digestive problems. Wilmot Cancer Institute researchers found that rectal cancer patients who respond well to radiation and chemotherapy are increasingly choosing a watch-and-wait strategy over surgery.
Rectal Cancer Therapies Improve: 10% Surge in Patients Opting for ‘Organ-Preserving’ Approach
The JAMA Oncology study found a roughly 10% rise in patients forgoing surgery between 2006 and 2020. This trend favors “organ-preserving” care. This technique requires five-year checkups with skilled oncologists, but it may protect patients against the long-term effects of surgery on bowel function and quality of life.
Dr. Fergal Fleming, Wilmot investigator and University of Rochester Medical Center associate professor of Surgery and Oncology, on the cancer therapies improve and stresses the importance of bowel function for patient quality of life. The report highlights the paradigm shift in rectal cancer care, similar to breast cancer therapy, where organ conservation is now preferred to large procedures.
The Wilmot Colorectal Cancer Program pioneered watch-and-wait organ preservation nearly a decade ago. Cancer therapies improve clinical trials and provide access to this novel approach. The nationwide Organ Preservation in Patients with Rectal Adenocarcinoma trial found that half of the watch-and-wait patients avoided surgery and had equivalent disease-free survival rates.
Promising Results in Rectal Cancer Care Shift Call for Clearer Guidelines and Equitable Adoption of ‘Watch-and-Wait
While the encouraging results signal a rectal cancer care shift, Dr. Fleming advocates caution and greater guidelines before applying watch-and-wait care extensively. Current treatment techniques differ, thus establishing an ideal surveillance approach that detects cancer regrowth early while being feasible for patients and health systems is critical.
Fleming underlines the importance of Wilmot’s integrated system for consistent messaging and follow-up. However, making this revolutionary approach universally accessible is difficult. Fleming underlines the necessity for an inclusive and equitable watch-and-wait policy nationwide to provide high-quality rectal cancer care.