"Watch and wait" treatment

Standard treatment for rectal cancer is the surgical removal of the rectum in its entirety. This surgery can heavily impact the quality of life. Some patients will need to use an ostomy bag or may experience incontinence or sexual difficulties. 

Prior to the surgery, patients will receive a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy). This completely destroys the tumor in 15 to 20% of patients. We can ask ourselves how essential surgery would be for these patients, compared to the loss of quality of life.

The Netherlands Cancer Institute offers these patients to take part in the "watch and wait" strategy. They can choose to have the surgery, or instead opt for the close monitoring of the tumor's potential return using MRI and endoscopy. The Netherlands Cancer Institute has the most expertise in "watch and wait" strategy in the Netherlands.


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