International Journal of Clinical Oncology

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 339–343 | Cite as

Function preservation in rectal cancer surgery

  • Yoshihiro MoriyaEmail author


When total mesorectal excision (TME) is accurately performed, dysfunction, theoretically, does not occur. However, there are differences among individuals in the running patterns and the volumes of nerve fibers, and if obesity or a narrow pelvis is present, nerve identification is difficult. Currently, the rate of urinary dysfunction after rectal surgery ranges from 33% to 70%. Many factors other than nerve preservation play a role in minor incontinence. Male sexual function shows impotence rates ranging from 20% to 46%, while 20%–60% of potent patients are unable to ejaculate. In women, information on sexual function is not easily obtained, and there are more unknown aspects than in men. As urinary, sexual, and defecation dysfunction due to adjuvant radiotherapy have been reported to occur at a high frequency, the creation of a protocol that enables analysis of long-term functional outcome will be essential for future clinical trials. In the treatment of rectal cancer, surgeon-related factors are extremely important, not only in achieving local control but also in preserving function. This article reviews findings from recent studies investigating urinary, sexual, and defecation dysfunction after rectal cancer surgery and discusses questions to be studied in the future.

Key words

rectal cancer urinary, sexual, defecation dysfunction adjuvant radiotherapy quality of life in rectal cancer patients 


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Copyright information

© The Japan Society of Clinical Oncology 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colorectal Surgery DivisionNational Cancer Center HospitalTokyoJapan

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