Purpose: To compare the outcome from preoperative chemoradiation (CXRT) and from radiation therapy (RT) in the treatment of rectal cancer in two large, single-institutional experiences. Patients and Methods: Between 1978 and 1995, 403 patients with localized, nonmetastatic, clinically staged T3 or T4 rectal cancer patients were treated with preoperative RT alone at two institutions. Patients at institution 1 (n = 207) were treated with pelvic CXRT exclusively, and patients at institution 2 were treated (except for 8 given CXRT) with pelvic RT alone (n = 196). In addition, a third group (n = 61) was treated with CXRT at institution 2 between 1998 and 2000 after a policy change. Both institutions delivered 45 Gy in five fractions as a standard dose, but institution 2 used 20 Gy in five fractions in selected cases (n = 26). At both institutions, concurrent chemotherapy consisted of a continuous infusion of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) at a dosage of 1500 mg/m2/week. The end points were response, sphincter preservation (SP), relapse-free survival (RFS), pelvic disease control (PC), and overall survival (OS). Results: Median follow-up was 63 months for all living patients at institution 1 and in the primary group of institution 2. Multivariate analysis of the patients in these groups showed that the use of concurrent chemotherapy improved tumor response (T-stage downstaging, 62% vs. 42%, p = 0.001, and pathologic complete response, 23% vs. 5% p < 0.0001), but did not significantly improve LC, RFS, or OS. Follow-up for the secondary group at institution 2 was insufficient to allow the analysis of these endpoints. In the subset of patients receiving 45 Gy who had rectal tumors ≤6 cm from the anal verge (institution 1: n = 132; institution 2 primary: n = 79; institution 2 secondary: n = 33), there was a significant improvement in SP with the use of concurrent chemotherapy (39% at institution 1 compared with 13% in the primary group at institution 2, p < 0.0001). A logistic regression analysis of clinical prognostic factors indicated that the use of concurrent chemotherapy independently influenced SP in these low tumors (p = 0.002). This finding was supported by a 36% SP rate in the secondary group at institution 2. Thus SP increased after the addition of chemotherapy at institution 2. Conclusions: The use of concurrent 5-FU with preoperative radiation therapy for T3 and T4 rectal cancer independently increases tumor response and may contribute to increased SP in patients with low rectal cancer.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics|
|State||Published - Sep 1 2003|
- Radiation therapy
- Rectal neoplasms