Rectal cancer is a social problem. It represents a third of incidences of neoplasias of the whole colon. The higher incidence of local relapses and worse survival compared to tumours occurring in the rest of the colon have affected the therapeutic strategy. Since the Consensus Conference in 1990 it has been recognised that rectal cancer needs a multidisciplinary approach, radiotherapy and chemotherapy being necessary complements of surgery to obtain the best chance of cure in stage II and III disease. The problems encountered in everyday practice in administering combination adjuvant therapy in the operated colon and the success in treating locally advanced rectal lesions with neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy has favoured attempts in treating operable tumours with a pre-operative multidisciplinary approach.
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