MRI of Rectal Cancer: Tumor Staging, Imaging Techniques, and Management.
Radiographics. 2019 Mar-Apr;39(2):367-387. doi: 10.1148/rg.2019180114. Epub 2019 Feb 15.
Horvat N1, Carlos Tavares Rocha C1, Clemente Oliveira B1, Petkovska I1, Gollub MJ1.
Rectal cancer is prone to local recurrence and systemic metastasis. However, owing to improvements in TNM staging and treatment, including a more widespread use of rectal MRI and increased radiologist awareness of the key rectal cancer TNM staging features, the mortality rate of rectal cancer has been declining over the past few decades in adults over 50 years of age. Currently, rectal MRI plays a key role in the pre- and posttreatment evaluation of rectal cancer, assisting the multidisciplinary team in tailoring the most appropriate treatment option. The benefits achieved with rectal MRI are strictly dependent on obtaining good-quality images, which is important for the characterization of the main anatomic structures and their relationship with the tumor. In primary staging, rectal MRI helps the radiologist (a) describe the tumor location and morphology, (b) provide its T and N categories, (c) detect the presence of extramural vascular invasion, and (d) identify its relationship with surrounding structures, including the sphincter complex and involvement of the mesorectal fascia. These features help diagnose locally advanced rectal tumors (categories T3c-d, T4, N1, and N2), for which neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is indicated. In restaging after neoadjuvant CRT, in addition to reassessing the features noted during primary staging, rectal MRI can help in the assessment of treatment response, especially with the emergence of nonsurgical approaches such as "watch and wait." ©RSNA, 2019.