, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 38-44

Preoperative Combined Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy for Middle and Lower Rectal Cancer: Preliminary Results

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Background: Adjuvant treatment for rectal cancer is still controversial. This study reports on overall survival and disease-free survival, toxicity, downstaging, and surgical morbidity in rectal cancer patients who received combined chemoradiation therapy followed by curative surgery.

Methods: Between 1993 and 1998, 51 patients (31 males and 20 females; median age, 60 years; range, 33–73 years) underwent chemoradiation therapy followed by radical surgery for middle and lower rectal adenocarcinoma. Criteria for giving preoperative radiotherapy (total 45 Gy in 25 fractions of 1.8 Gy/day for 5 weeks) and chemotherapy (5-fluorouracil 350 mg/m2/day and leucovorin 10 mg/m2/day, bolus on days 1–5 and 29–33) were an age younger than 75 years; an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 0 to 2; and clinical preoperative stage II–III. Forty-three low anterior and eight abdominoperineal resections were performed. Median follow-up time was 29 (range, 3–63) months.

Results: Although grade 3 to 4 toxicity occurred in 14 cases (27.4%), all patients completed the planned adjuvant therapy. At pathology, a complete response was found in eight (15.7%) cases. Of the remaining 43 cases, 22 were stage I, 12 were stage II, and 9 were stage III. Five-year actuarial disease-free survival and overall survival rates were 86.4% and 85.5%, respectively. Whereas no local recurrences were found, 4 patients had distant metastases. Three patients died (1 of cancerrelated causes), 45 are alive and disease free, and 3 are alive with disease.

Conclusions: The combined preoperative chemoradiation approach used by us seems to improve the disease-free survival and overall survival of selected patients with rectal cancer. However, a longer follow-up time is required to confirm these preliminary results.

Presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of Society of Surgical Oncology, Orlando, Florida, March 4–7, 1999.