Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common in women worldwide, and the incidence is increasing among younger patients. 30% of these malignancies arise in the rectum. Patients with rectal cancer have historically been managed with preoperative radiation, followed by radical surgery, and adjuvant chemotherapy, with permanent colostomies in up to 20% of patients. Beginning in the early 2000s, non-operative management (NOM) of rectal cancer emerged as a viable alternative to radical surgery in select patients. Efforts have been ongoing to optimize neoadjuvant therapy for rectal cancer, thereby increasing the number of patients potentially eligible to forgo radical surgery. Magnetic resonance guided radiotherapy (MRgRT) has recently emerged as a treatment modality capable of intensifying preoperative radiation therapy for rectal cancer patients. This technology may also predict which patients will achieve a complete response to preoperative therapy, thereby allowing for more appropriate selection of patients for NOM. The present work seeks to illustrate the potential role MRgRT could play in personalizing rectal cancer treatment thus expanding the role of NOM in rectal cancer.

Keywords: adaptive radiation therapy; chemoradiation; quality of life; radiation therapy; rectal cancer

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