Preoperative combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy for middle and lower rectal cancer: Preliminary results

Salvatore Pucciarelli, Maria Luisa Friso, Paola Toppan, Adriano Fornasiero, Sandro Carnio, Elisabetta Marchiori, Mario Lise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adjuvant treatment for rectal cancer is still controversial. This study reports on overall survival and disease-free survival, toxicity, downstaging, and surgical morbidity in rectal cancer patients who received combined chemoradiation therapy followed by curative surgery. Methods: Between 1993 and 1998, 51 patients (31 males and 20 females; median age, 60 years; range, 33-73 years) underwent chemoradiation therapy followed by radical surgery for middle and lower rectal adenocarcinoma. Criteria for giving preoperative radiotherapy (total 45 Gy in 25 fractions of 1.8 Gy/day for 5 weeks) and chemotherapy (5-fluorouracil 350 mg/m2/day and leucovorin 10 mg/m2/day, bolus on days 1-5 and 29-33) were an age younger than 75 years; an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score of 0 to 2; and clinical preoperative stage II-III. Forty-three low anterior and eight abdominoperineal resections were performed. Median follow-up time was 29 (range, 3-63) months. Results: Although grade 3 to 4 toxicity occurred in 14 cases (27.4%), all patients completed the planned adjuvant therapy. At pathology, a complete response was found in eight (15.7%) cases. Of the remaining 43 cases, 22 were stage I, 12 were stage II, and 9 were stage III. Five-year actuarial disease-free survival and overall survival rates were 86.4% and 85.5%, respectively. Whereas no local recurrences were found, 4 patients had distant metastases. Three patients died (1 of cancer-related causes), 45 are alive and disease free, and 3 are alive with disease. Conclusions: The combined preoperative chemoradiation approach used by us seems to improve the disease-free survival and overall survival of selected patients with rectal cancer. However, a longer follow-up time is required to confirm these preliminary results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


  • Adjuvant treatment
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Rectal cancer
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology

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