PURPOSE: This study was designed to evaluate the feasibility and oncologic and functional outcomes of intersphincteric resection for very low rectal cancer. METHODS: A feasibility study was performed using 213 specimens from abdominoperineal resections of rectal cancer. Oncologic and functional outcomes were investigated in 228 patients with rectal cancer located <5 cm from the anal verge who underwent intersphincteric resection at seven institutions in Japan between 1995 and 2004. RESULTS: Curative operations were accomplished by intersphincteric resection in 86 percent of patients who underwent abdominoperineal resection. Complete microscopic curative surgery was achieved by intersphincteric resection in 225 of 228 patients. Morbidity was 24 percent, and mortality was 0.4 percent. During the median observation time of 41 months, rate of local recurrence was 5.8 percent at three years, and five-year overall and disease-free survival rates were 91.9 percent and 83.2 percent, respectively. In 181 patients who received stoma closure, 68 percent displayed good continence, and only 7 percent showed worsened continence at 24 months after stoma closure. Patients with total intersphincteric resection displayed significantly worse continence than patients with partial or subtotal resection. CONCLUSIONS: Curability with intersphincteric resection was verified histologically, and acceptable oncologic and functional outcomes were obtained by using these procedures in patients with very low rectal cancer. However, information on potential functional adverse effects after intersphincteric resection should be provided to patients preoperatively.
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