Aim: This study aimed to determine the consequences of the new definition of rectal cancer for decision-making in multidisciplinary team meetings (MDT). The new definition of rectal cancer, the lower border of the tumour is located below the sigmoid take-off (STO), was implemented in the Dutch guideline in 2019 after an international Delphi consensus meeting to reduce interhospital variations. Method: All patients with rectal cancer according to the local MDT, who underwent resection in 2016 in the Netherlands were eligible for this nationwide collaborative cross-sectional study. MRI-images were rereviewed, and the tumours were classified as above or on/below the STO. Results: This study registered 3107 of the eligible 3178 patients (98%), of which 2784 patients had an evaluable MRI. In 314 patients, the tumour was located above the STO (11%), with interhospital variation between 0% and 36%. Based on TN-stage, 175 reclassified patients with colon cancer (6%) would have received different treatment (e.g., omitting neoadjuvant radiotherapy, candidate for adjuvant chemotherapy). Tumour location above the STO was independently associated with lower risk of 4-year locoregional recurrence (HR 0.529; p = 0.030) and higher 4-year overall survival (HR 0.732; p = 0.037) compared to location under the STO. Conclusion: By using the STO, 11% of the prior MDT-based diagnosis of rectal cancer were redefined as sigmoid cancer, with potential implications for multimodality treatment and prognostic value. Given the substantial interhospital variation in proportion of redefined cancers, the use of the STO will contribute to standardisation and comparability of outcomes in both daily practice and trial settings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalColorectal disease
Early online date2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • rectal cancer
  • rectosigmoid
  • sigmoid cancer
  • sigmoid take-off
  • treatment

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