Post-Operative Functional Outcomes in Early Age Onset Rectal Cancer

REACCT Collaborative

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Impairment of bowel, urogenital and fertility-related function in patients treated for rectal cancer is common. While the rate of rectal cancer in the young (<50 years) is rising, there is little data on functional outcomes in this group. 


The REACCT international collaborative database was reviewed and data on eligible patients analysed. Inclusion criteria comprised patients with a histologically confirmed rectal cancer, <50 years of age at time of diagnosis and with documented follow-up including functional outcomes. 


A total of 1428 (n=1428) patients met the eligibility criteria and were included in the final analysis. Metastatic disease was present at diagnosis in 13%. Of these, 40% received neoadjuvant therapy and 50% adjuvant chemotherapy. The incidence of post-operative major morbidity was 10%. A defunctioning stoma was placed for 621 patients (43%); 534 of these proceeded to elective restoration of bowel continuity. The median follow-up time was 42 months. Of this cohort, a total of 415 (29%) reported persistent impairment of functional outcomes, the most frequent of which was bowel dysfunction (16%), followed by bladder dysfunction (7%), sexual dysfunction (4.5%) and infertility (1%). 


A substantial proportion of patients with early-onset rectal cancer who undergo surgery report persistent impairment of functional status. Patients should be involved in the discussion regarding their treatment options and potential impact on quality of life. Functional outcomes should be routinely recorded as part of follow up alongside oncological parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number868359
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2022

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