A study looking at the treatment of rectal cancer that starts very low down in the bowel (Low Rectal Cancer Study)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Rectal cancer





This study is looking at ways to improve treatment for rectal cancer. The people taking part have bowel cancer that is very close to the anus Open a glossary item.

More about this trial

Doctors usually treat cancer that starts in the rectum Open a glossary item with surgery. Some people may also have radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

When you have surgery to remove cancer, the doctors want to make sure that they take out an area of tissue around the cancer that doesn’t contain any cancer cells. This is what is known as a clear margin of tissue. This is important, because having a clear margin means there is less chance of the cancer coming back.

Scans such as an MRI can help doctors to plan and modify the operation and get clear margins. In this study, the researchers want to find out how much the scans help. They also want to find out how much treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy help. And they want to see what effect treatment has on people’s lives.

If you take part in the study, the researchers will look at your medical notes to find details of the scans, the type of operation and any other treatment you have. They will look at some of the tissue removed when you have your operation. And they will ask you to fill in a number of questionnaires.

The aims of the study are to

  • See if it is possible to make sure that more people get clear margins when they have cancer removed from the lowest part of the rectum
  • Find out how much this helps to reduce the number of cancers that come back
  • Look at why some cancers do come back
  • Learn more about side effects of treatment for rectal cancer and how this affects people’s quality of life

The researchers hope that the results of the study will improve rectal cancer treatment for people in the future.

Who can enter

You can enter this trial if you

  • Have recently been diagnosed with rectal cancer that is very close to the anus
  • Are at least 18 years old

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Have already had treatment for rectal cancer
  • Have had radiotherapy to the pelvis Open a glossary item
  • Have had any other cancer in the pelvis or rectum (apart from carcinoma in situ Open a glossary item)
  • Have had certain types of surgery to the pelvis (the trial doctors can advise you on this)
  • Are not able to have an MRI scan (this could be because you have metal inside your body, for example, a joint replacement, a pacemaker or artificial heart valve)
  • Are pregnant

Trial design

The study aims to recruit over 400 people in the UK. If you agree to take part, the researchers will get details about your treatment from your medical notes. They will also get a sample of the tissue removed when you have your surgery. And they will ask to you to fill in 10 or 11 questionnaires over the next 5 years.

The questionnaires will ask you about any side effects you have had and how you have been feeling. As well as asking about your general well being, there will be questions about how your bowel or stoma Open a glossary item (if you have one) has been working. They will ask if you have had problems such as weight loss, incontinence Open a glossary item or difficulty passing urine. There will be some questions about your sex life and how you feel about your sexuality.

Hospital visits

You will not have to make any extra visits to hospital if you take part in this study. The researchers will send the questionnaires to you by post.

Side effects

There are no side effects from taking part in the study.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Gina Brown
Mr Brendan Moran

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Pelican Cancer Foundation
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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