Current therapy for early colorectal cancer is radical Total Mesorectal Excision (TME). Colorectal surgical resections are accompanied with high morbidity of up to 33% and 90 days mortality of up to 9% in the fragile elderly patients. Additionally, rectal cancer surgery is associated with substantial loss of health related quality of life due to defecation disorders, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and stoma related morbidity.
These disadvantages are acceptable when radical surgery is the only option for cure. Advances in technology enabled the development of local excision of early rectal cancer with precise endoluminal microsurgery or local endoscopic excision resulting in a significant decrease in short- and long term morbidity. However current evidence is of inadequate quality to conclude on the oncologic safety of local treatment for early rectal cancer. Imaging can predict outcome and tailors treatment in more advanced cancer but fails in early cancer. Pathological assessment of the excised tumor tissue provides the optimal information on tumor stage, tumor characteristics and tumor differentiation, thereby it enables to predict the risk of recurrence after local treatment alone.
For early rectal cancers, with a low risk on recurrence based on favourable tumour characteristics local excision is seen as safe and these patients do not require an additional treatment. However, for patients with early rectal cancer with a higher risk on recurrence based on tumor characteristics there is no consensus on the additional treatment after local excision. According to the National guideline these patients receive a TME procedure. However, for this subgroup of patients local treatment followed by chemoradiotherapy might also be oncological safe. Current evidence is of inadequate quality to be conclusive.
For this subgroup of patients with early rectal cancer with high risk tumorcharacteristics the TESAR trial is designed, in which patiens will be randomised after local endoluminal excision between an additional TME-procedure (standard) and adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Primary endpoint of the study will be local recurrence at 3 three year follow-up.