Untreated rectal cancer is uncommon. However, untreated cancer may still occur in patients with limited access to medical care or who refuse conventional interventions.
In this study, researchers from the United States reviewed the archival literature documenting outcomes in patients with untreated rectal cancer.
They identified 9 articles that contained relevant age at presentation data of patients with rectal cancer. Of these, 6 also included patient survival data for untreated rectal cancer.
|5-year actuarial survival was 4%.|
|Journal of Surgical Oncology|
The researchers found that the symptoms most often presented in the fifth and sixth decades.
They determined that the median survival of the 1326 patients fell within the second year after presentation of symptoms.
They calculated that 5-year actuarial survival was 4%.
Dr Melissa Solum and colleagues concluded, "Clearly, advances in antibiotics, surgery, chemoradiotherapy, and supportive care have contributed to increased survival for patients with treated rectal cancer".
"Recognizing the hazards of generalizing too extremely from the data, they reveal that relatively long survival for patients with untreated lesions is possible".