Chemoradiation with raltitrexed (TOMUDEX) in preoperative treatment of stage II-III resectable rectal cancer: A phase II study

Maria Antonietta Gambacorta, Vincenzo Valentini, Alessio Giuseppe Morganti, Giovanna Mantini, Francesco Miccichè, Carlo Ratto, Dario Di Miceli, Fabio Rotondi, Sergio Alfieri, Giovan Battista Doglietto, Jose Garcia Vargas, Antonino De Paoli, Carlo Rossi, Numa Cellini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To evaluate the impact of preoperative chemoradiation with raltitrexed (Tomudex1) on tumor response, sphincter preservation, and toxicity in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. Methods and materials Between 1998 and 2002, 54 consecutive patients with Stage T3 or T2N+ resectable rectal carcinoma were treated with preoperative chemoradiation, i.v. bolus of raltitrexed on Days 1, 19, and 38 and concurrent 50 Gy external beam radiotherapy. Surgery was performed 6-8 weeks after the end of chemoradiation. Results No patients had Grade 4 acute toxicity. Grade 3 acute toxicity occurred in 16.6% of cases and was hematologic in 6 patients and GI in 2. The overall clinical response rate was 88.8%, with a complete response in 5.5%, partial response in 83.3%, and no change in 9.2%. No patient showed disease progression. All patients underwent surgery. Sphincter saving was obtained in 83.3% of patients. No perioperative mortality occurred, and the perioperative morbidity rate was 5.5%. Of 20 resected patients (37%) who were candidates for abdominoperineal resection at diagnosis (anorectal ring distance ≤30 mm), 13 (65%) underwent a sphincter-saving procedure. At pathologic examination, 13 (24%) of 54 patients had a complete pathologic response (pT0) and 10 (18.5%) had rare isolated residual cancer cells (pT, microscopic foci). Overall, 42.5% had major downstaging. The tumor regression grade (TRG), using Mandard's score system, was also applied and was TRG1 in 13 patients, TRG2 in 11, TRG3 in 20, and TRG4 in 10 patients; no patient had TRG5. Conclusion The use of raltitrexed in a neoadjuvant chemoradiation schedule promoted high pathologic tumor downstaging and use of a sphincter-saving procedure. The low toxicity profile supports the rationale to explore raltitrexed combined with other drugs with different biologic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2004


  • Preoperative chemoradiation
  • Raltitrexed
  • Rectal carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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