Although contact radiotherapy was developed 70 years ago, and is highly effective with cure rates of over 90% for early rectal cancer, there are few centres that offer this treatment today. One reason is the lack of replacement of ageing contact X-ray machines, many of which are now over 30 years old. To address this problem, the International Contact Radiotherapy Evaluation (ICONE) group was formed at a meeting in Liverpool in 2005 with the aim of developing a new contact X-ray unit and to establish clinical protocols that would enable the new machine to safely engage in the treatment of rectal cancer. As a result of these efforts, a European company is starting production of the new Papillon RT-50 machine, which will be available shortly. In addition, the ICONE group is planning an observational study on contact X-ray and transanal endoscopic microsurgery (CONTEM) for curative treatment of rectal cancer. This protocol will ensure standardised diagnostic procedures, patient selection and treatment in centres across the world and the data will be collected prospectively for analysis and audit. It is hoped that the CONTEM trial will provide the scientific evidence that is needed to obtain a broader acceptance of local contact radiotherapy as a treatment option for selected cases with early stage rectal cancer.
- Contact X-ray
- early rectal cancer
- preoperative chemoradiotherapy
- transanal endoscopic microsurgery