Five fractions of radiation therapy followed by 4 cycles of FOLFOX chemotherapy as preoperative treatment for rectal cancer

Robert J. Myerson, Benjamin Tan, Steven Hunt, Jeffrey Olsen, Elisa Birnbaum, James Fleshman, Feng Gao, Lannis Hall, Ira Kodner, A. Craig Lockhart, Matthew Mutch, Michael Naughton, Joel Picus, Caron Rigden, Bashar Safar, Steven Sorscher, Rama Suresh, Andrea Wang-Gillam, Parag Parikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Background Preoperative radiation therapy with 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy is a standard of care for cT3-4 rectal cancer. Studies incorporating additional cytotoxic agents demonstrate increased morbidity with little benefit. We evaluate a template that: (1) includes the benefits of preoperative radiation therapy on local response/control; (2) provides preoperative multidrug chemotherapy; and (3) avoids the morbidity of concurrent radiation therapy and multidrug chemotherapy. Methods and Materials Patients with cT3-4, any N, any M rectal cancer were eligible. Patients were confirmed to be candidates for pelvic surgery, provided response was sufficient. Preoperative treatment was 5 fractions radiation therapy (25 Gy to involved mesorectum, 20 Gy to elective nodes), followed by 4 cycles of FOLFOX [5-fluorouracil, oxaliplatin, leucovorin]. Extirpative surgery was performed 4 to 9 weeks after preoperative chemotherapy. Postoperative chemotherapy was at the discretion of the medical oncologist. The principal objectives were to achieve T stage downstaging (ypT < cT) and preoperative grade 3+ gastrointestinal morbidity equal to or better than that of historical controls. Results 76 evaluable cases included 7 cT4 and 69 cT3; 59 (78%) cN+, and 7 cM1. Grade 3 preoperative GI morbidity occurred in 7 cases (9%) (no grade 4 or 5). Sphincter-preserving surgery was performed on 57 (75%) patients. At surgery, 53 patients (70%) had ypT0-2 residual disease, including 21 (28%) ypT0 and 19 (25%) ypT0N0 (complete response); 24 (32%) were ypN+. At 30 months, local control for all evaluable cases and freedom from disease for M0 evaluable cases were, respectively, 95% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 89%-100%) and 87% (95% CI: 76%-98%). Cases were subanalyzed by whether disease met requirements for the recently activated PROSPECT trial for intermediate-risk rectal cancer. Thirty-eight patients met PROSPECT eligibility and achieved 16 ypT0 (42%), 15 ypT0N0 (39%), and 33 ypT0-2 (87%). Conclusion This regimen achieved response and morbidity rates that compare favorably with those of conventionally fractionated radiation therapy and concurrent chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-836
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2014


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