PURPOSE: It is not yet known whether preoperative combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy for rectal cancer affects postoperative mortality and morbidity. We therefore evaluated early postoperative complications in patients given adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy before surgery for middle and lower recta! adenocarcinoma. METHODS: Between 1994 and 1998, 41 patients underwent combined preoperative pelvic radiotherapy and chemotherapy at our institution. Most of the patients had 45 Gy (1.8 Gy/day/25 fractions) during five weeks plus 5-fluorouracil (350 mg/m2/day) and low-dose leucovorin (10 mg/m2/day) bolus on Days 1 to 5 and 29 to 33. Surgery was performed four to six weeks after completion of adjuvant therapy. The 41 patients (Group A) were retrospectively compared with 30 patients (Group B) who, in the same period, underwent surgery without preoperative adjuvant therapy. The groups were homogeneous for age, gender, preoperative risk factors, operating surgeon, and pathologic stage. Mean distance of the tumor from the anal verge was shorter in Group A patients (P = 0.031). RESULTS: There were seven major postoperative complications in each group. No significant differences were found between the groups for morbidity and mortality rates. Considering all patients, more postoperative complications were found in patients scored as American Society of Anesthesiologists 3, in those with a preoperative hemoglobin value <10 g/dl, and in those without a diverting stoma (P = 0.0048, P = 0.0453, and P = 0.0033, respectively). At multivariate analysis, independent predictors of major complications were American Society of Anesthesiologists score (relative risk, 343; P = 0.022), diverting stoma (relative risk, 159; P = 0.010), type of surgical procedure (relative risk, 38.9; P = 0.048), preoperative hemoglobin value (relative risk, 9.72; P = 0.061), and intraoperative blood loss (relative risk, 1; P = 0.027). In Group A patients, the absence of diverting stomas was associated with major postoperative complications (P = 0.0307), and independent predictors of major complications were American Society of Anesthesiologists score (relative risk, 56; P = 0.111) and absence of a diverting stoma (relative risk, 22.42; P = 0.222). CONCLUSION: Early postoperative complications after resection for middle and lower rectal adenocarcinoma are affected by intraoperative and preoperative risk factors and absence of diverting stomas, but not by preoperative adjuvant therapy.
- Rectal carcinoma
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