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01.03.2012 | Review Article | Ausgabe 3/2012

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery 3/2012

The role of lateral lymph node dissection in the management of lower rectal cancer

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery > Ausgabe 3/2012
Ziting Wang, Kep Yong Loh, Kok-Yang Tan, Emile Chung-Hou Woo



Lateral lymph node involvement is a problem encountered in patients with low rectal cancers. This has been documented in both anatomical and pathological studies. Currently, the vast majority of centers have concentrated on the use of chemoradiation to obtain better local control and manage these nodes indirectly. In Japan, extended nodal dissection for the control of pelvic nodal disease has seen further advancement. This paper discusses the key issues involved in the management of pelvic lateral nodes in low rectal cancers.


A review of available literature and critical appraisal of the entity of lateral nodes in low rectal cancers, the treatment options, and oncological and functional results were performed.


There are good data showing that the entity of pelvic lateral nodes in low rectal cancers should not be ignored. Recent data have emerged showing that radiotherapy is associated with significant long-term functional side effects. Refinement of the technique, lateral node dissection, has led to good local control as well as good functional outcomes.


In this context, there needs to be a reevaluation of the role of chemoradiation as the sole treatment for lateral nodal disease in centers outside of Japan. Individualization of the treatment of rectal cancer may require all centers to be able to offer both modalities.

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