“Watch and wait” for rectal cancer
Many patients with rectal cancer will be treated with chemoradiation therapy (a combination treatment of radiation therapy and chemotherapy) before their surgery. Chemoradiation therapy can shrink the tumor. We use an MRI scan and/or sigmoidoscopy to check the tumor size prior to the surgery. Some patients are completely tumor-free as a result of the treatment. These patients can choose for a “Watch and wait” procedure as an alternative to the surgery.
"Watch and wait" means that we wait to see if the tumor stays away. You will not have surgery, but will have to come in for regular screenings. This helps us avoid the risks that come with surgery, permanent ostomy, and less problems with incontinence or sexual health than you would after surgery. Professor dr. Geerard Beets from the Netherlands Cancer Institute is the national expert in the “watch and wait” strategy for rectal cancer.