Rectal Cancer has always been considered a surgical condition. From the Miles procedure to the new, minimally invasive techniques, like TaTME, the focus was to obtain the best surgical resection possible, which, combined with neoadjuvant treatment (radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy), allows for a reduction of local recurrence.
Nevertheless, proctectomy is not an innocuous procedure and may lead to significant complications: long-term urinary and sexual dysfunction, fecal incontinence, low anterior resection syndrome and the need for a temporary or a definitive stoma.
To overcome these possible complications, research has been done into organ-preserving strategies.
The Watch & Wait strategy emerged from these premises. The possibility to use Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy as a definitive treatment was first explored by Professor Angelita Habr-Gama, and has been increasingly used all over the World.
In this lecture, Dr. Rodrigo O Perez, one of the leading experts in this approach, discusses the criteria for complete clinical response and how to assess it.