Clinical Complete Response in Patients With Rectal Adenocarcinoma Treated With Short-Course Radiation Therapy and Nonoperative Management

Re I. Chin, Amit Roy, Katrina Pedersen, Yi Huang, Steven Hunt, Sean C. Glasgow, Benjamin Tan, Paul E. Wise, Matthew L. Silviera, Radhika Smith, Rama Suresh, Shahed N. Badiyan, Anup Shetty, Lauren E. Henke, Matthew G. Mutch, Hyun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study aimed to determine the clinical efficacy and safety of nonoperative management (NOM) for patients with rectal cancer with a clinical complete response (cCR) after short-course radiation therapy and consolidation chemotherapy. Methods and Materials: Patients with stage I-III rectal adenocarcinoma underwent short-course radiation therapy followed by consolidation chemotherapy between January 2018 and May 2019 (n = 90). Clinical response was assessed by digital rectal examination, pelvic magnetic resonance imaging, and endoscopy. Of the patients with an evaluable initial response, those with a cCR (n = 43) underwent NOM, and those with a non-cCR (n = 43) underwent surgery. The clinical endpoints included local regrowth-free survival, regional control, distant metastasis-free survival, disease-free survival, and overall survival. Results: Compared with patients with an initial cCR, patients with initial non-cCR had more advanced T and N stage (P = .05), larger primary tumors (P = .002), and more circumferential resection margin involvement on diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (P < .001). With a median follow-up of 30.1 months, the persistent cCR rate was 79% (30 of 38 patients) in the NOM cohort. The 2-year local regrowth-free survival was 81% (95% confidence interval [CI], 70%-94%) in the initial cCR group, and all patients with local regrowth were successfully salvaged. Compared with those with a non-cCR, patients with a cCR had improved 2-year regional control (98% [95% CI, 93%-100%] vs 85% [95% CI, 74%-97%], P = .02), distant metastasis-free survival (100% [95% CI, 100%-100%] vs 80% [95% CI, 69%-94%], P < .01), disease-free survival (98% [95% CI, 93%-100%] vs 71% [95% CI, 59%-87%], P < .01), and overall survival (100% [95% CI, 100%-100%] vs 88% [95% CI, 79%-98%], P = .02). No late grade 3+ gastrointestinal or genitourinary toxicities were observed in the patients who underwent continued NOM. Conclusions: Short-course radiation therapy followed by consolidation chemotherapy may be a feasible organ preservation strategy in rectal cancer. Additional prospective studies are necessary to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-725
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


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