Critical role of bevacizumab scheduling in combination with presurgical chemo-radiotherapy in MRI-defined high-risk locally advanced rectal cancer: Results of the branch trial

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Background: We have previously shown that an intensified preoperative regimen including oxaliplatin plus raltitrexed and 5-fluorouracil/folinic acid (OXATOM/ FUFA) during preoperative pelvic radiotherapy produced promising results in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Preclinical evidence suggests that the scheduling of bevacizumab may be crucial to optimize its combination with chemo-radiotherapy. Patients and methods: This non-randomized, non-comparative, phase II study was conducted in MRI-defined high-risk LARC. Patients received three biweekly cycles of OXATOM/FUFA during RT. Bevacizumab was given 2 weeks before the start of chemoradiotherapy, and on the same day of chemotherapy for 3 cycles (concomitant-schedule A) or 4 days prior to the first and second cycle of chemotherapy (sequential-schedule B). Primary end point was pathological complete tumor regression (TRG1) rate. Results: The accrual for the concomitant-schedule was early terminated because the number of TRG1 (2 out of 16 patients) was statistically inconsistent with the hypothesis of activity (30%) to be tested. Conversely, the endpoint was reached with the sequential-schedule and the final TRG1 rate among 46 enrolled patients was 50% (95% CI 35%-65%). Neutropenia was the most common grade ≥3 toxicity with both schedules, but it was less pronounced with the sequential than concomitant-schedule (30% vs. 44%). Postoperative complications occurred in 8/15 (53%) and 13/46 (28%) patients in schedule A and B, respectively. At 5 year follow-up the probability of PFS and OS was 80% (95%CI, 66%-89%) and 85% (95%CI, 69%-93%), respectively, for the sequential-schedule. Conclusions: These results highlights the relevance of bevacizumab scheduling to optimize its combination with preoperative chemo-radiotherapy in the management of LARC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30394-30407
Number of pages14
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Bevacizumab
  • Locally advanced rectal cancer
  • Preoperative chemo-radiotherapy
  • Vessel normalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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