Lateral Pelvic Nodal Management and Patterns of Failure in Patients Receiving Short-Course Radiation for Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer

Comron Hassanzadeh, Kasim Mirza, Bita Kalaghchi, Fedra Fallahian, Re I. Chin, Amit Roy, Hayley Stowe, Gregory Low, Katrina Pedersen, Paul Wise, Sean Glasgow, Michael Roach, Lauren Henke, Shahed Badiyan, Matthew Mutch, Hyun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Management of lateral pelvic lymph nodes in locally advanced rectal cancer is controversial, with limited data indicating the optimal approach. In addition, no data exist regarding the treatment of lateral nodes in the setting of short-course radiation and nonoperative intent. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a novel approach incorporating simultaneous integrated boost to suspicious lateral nodes. DESIGN: A retrospective study. SETTING: This study was conducted at a large tertiary referral center. PATIENTS: Patients treated with radiation therapy and consolidation chemotherapy were included. All primary tumors underwent biopsy confirmation and disease staging with pelvic MRI. INTERVENTIONS: Primary tumors were biopsy proven and staged with pelvic MRI. A subset of lateral pelvic lymph node patients received a simultaneous integrated boost of 35 Gy in 5 fractions. Then, chemotherapy was administered, with the majority receiving modified folinic acid, fluorouracil, and oxaliplatin. Clinical partial response required total mesorectal excision. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patterns of failure and survival analyses by subgroup were assessed. Outcomes based on receipt of radiation were compared across node status. RESULTS: Between January 2017 and January 2022, 155 patients were treated with short-course chemotherapy, with 121 included in the final analysis. Forty-nine percent of patients underwent nonoperative management. The median follow-up was 36 months and the median age was 58 years. Thirty-eight patients (26%) had positive lateral pelvic lymph nodes. Comparing lateral node status, progression-free survival was significantly worse for patients with positive disease (p < 0.001), with a trend for worse overall survival. Receipt of nodal boost in patients with lateral nodes resulted in meaningful locoregional control. Nodal boost did not contribute to additional acute or late GI toxicity. LIMITATIONS: Limitations include retrospective nature and lack of lateral node pathology; however, a thorough radiographic review was performed. CONCLUSIONS: Lateral node-positive rectal cancer is correlated with worse oncologic outcomes and higher locoregional failure. Boost to clinically positive lateral nodes is a safe approach in the setting of short course radiation and in those receiving nonoperative intent. See Video Abstract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalDiseases of the Colon and Rectum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • Lateral pelvic lymph nodes
  • Patterns of failure
  • Rectal cancer
  • Short-course radiation


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