Whether resection of the primary tumour is of benefit to patients with incurable rectal cancer remains a matter of debate.
Dr Sigurdsson and colleagues from Norway prospectively recorded data from a national cohort.
|30-day mortality varied from 3% to 20%|
The team evaluated 4831 patients diagnosed with rectal cancer between 1997 and 2001, of which 838 patients had palliative surgery.
Patients were stratified according to disease stage, age, and type of surgery.
The researchers found a significantly longer median survival of 12 months in patients treated with resection of the primary tumor.
In patients treated with nonresective procedures, the median survival was 5 months.
The team observed that median survival in months was significantly related to age.
In patients over 80 years, survival was similar regardless of the treatment.
The research team noted that 30-day mortality varied from 3% to 20%, according to age groups.
Dr Sigurdssons' team concluded, "The longer survival observed in patients with resection of the primary tumour may partly be explained by patient selection."
"Elderly patients had a similar survival, irrespective of resection of the primary tumor or not."
"Careful consideration of the individual patient, extent of disease, and treatment-related factors are important in decision-taking for palliative treatment for patients with advanced rectal cancer."