Background: The cranial border of the target volume (T\/) in rectal cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation (nCRT) is mostly defined at the level of L5/S1. However, current studies have shown that relapse cranially of the target volume after neoadjuvant nCRT and surgery is very rare. A reduction of cranial TV margins could be reasonable to reduce toxicity to the organs at risk (OAR). In this study we compared the dose distribution to the OAR for different cranial longitudinal margins using a dose-volume histogram (DVH) analysis.Methods: Ten patients with loco regional advanced rectal cancer were analysed retrospectively. All patients were planned for Volumetric Arc Therapy Radiation Therapy (VMAT). Next to the original PTV (PTV0), three new planning target volumes (PTV) were defined for each patient: The PTV0 reduced by 1 cm, 2 cm and 3 cm on cranial extension. For each PTV a treatment plan with a total dose of 50.4 Gy with daily doses of 1.8 Gy was calculated. Dose to the OAR were evaluated and compared.Results: For the bone marrow, the small bowel and the peritoneal space all clinically relevant relative dose parameters (V10-V50) as well as the Dmedian could be significantly reduced with every cranial target volume reduction of 1 cm. For V10 of the peritoneal space the dose could be nearly halved with a 3 cm shortened TV. After TV reduction of 3 cm also for the urinary bladder a significant dose reduction of the Dmedian could be achieved.Conclusions: Considering the very low recurrence rates in the TME and IMRT era, the distribution patterns of these relapses as well as the relevant side effects of nCRT, we would agree with existing recommendations of reduction of the cranial target volume in nCRT treated rectal cancer patients.