Published online Apr 27, 2010. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v2.i4.95
Revised: February 14, 2010
Accepted: February 21, 2010
Published online: April 27, 2010
Extended pelvic lymphadenectomy (EPL) with total mesorectal excision (TME) has been reported to provide oncological benefit in lower rectal cancer in Japan. In Western countries EPL is not widely accepted because of frequent morbidity but instead preoperative chemoradiation (CRT) followed by TME has been established as a standard treatment for decreasing local recurrence. Recently, several studies have focused on the comparison between these two distinct therapeutic approaches in Western countries and Japan. A study comparing Dutch trial data and Japanese data revealed that EPL and RT are almost equivalent in decreasing local recurrence in lower rectal cancer as compared with TME alone. Considering that almost 45% survival can be achieved by EPL even in the presence of metastatic lateral lymph nodes (LLNs), EPL performed by experienced surgeons definitely contributes to decrease local recurrence. On the other hand, a randomized controlled trial in Japan that compared EPL with conventional TME following preoperative RT revealed that EPL is associated with a higher frequency of sexual and urinary dysfunction without oncological benefits in the presence of preoperative RT. On this point, preoperative CRT followed by conventional TME without EPL would be a better therapeutic approach in patients without evident metastatic LLNs. For future treatment, it would be desirable to have a narrower indication for EPL using full advantage of recent improvement in image diagnosis. Although objective comparison of these two principles between Japan and the West is difficult due to differences in patient groups, further studies would lead to the next great step towards future improvement in treating lower rectal cancer.