Preoperative concomitant radiotherapy and chemotherapy in ultrasound-staged T3 and T4 rectal cancer

Gabriele Luppi, Mario Santantonio, Federica Bertolini, Francesco Fiorica, Francesca Zanelli, Margherita Gavioli, Mario Balli, Vittorio Silingardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To analyze early results of a single institution's experience using neo-adjuvant chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced, ultrasound-staged rectal cancer. Patients and methods: Since 1998, 67 consecutive patients (36 males and 31 females; mean age, 59.5) have received preoperative combined treatment for T3 or T4 rectal cancer. All patients were staged by endorectal ultrasound and computed tomography, and all had a pathology-demonstrated invasive adenocarcinoma of the rectum. Patients were treated preoperatively with concomitant radiochemotherapy: pelvic irradiation (50 Gy in 25 fractions) and protracted-venous-infusion 5-fluorouracil (225 mg/m2/d, 7 days per week). Patients were restaged within 4 weeks, then submitted to surgery within 6-7 weeks after the end of therapy. Adjuvant postoperative chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil plus folinic acid - the "de Gramont" schedule - for 24 weeks was purposed to all patients. Results: Radiotherapy was completed in all cases; only one patient required suspension of the treatment for grade 4 toxicity (diarrhea). Instead, chemotherapy was interrupted in 3 cases (2 for central venous catheter thrombosis and 1 for grade IV diarrhea). Sixty-six patients underwent surgical resection (1 patient died before surgical treatment). Radical surgery was performed in 94%, and 46% of the 26 patients with distal rectal cancer had a conservative sphincter-sparing surgery. A complete pathologic response (defined as no evidence of viable tumor cells) was obtained in 22%. At a median follow-up of 17 months, distant metastases have been observed in 10 patients, and 3 of them developed a local recurrence. The actuarial estimations of 4-year overall survival, disease-free survival, local and distant control are 79%, 61%, 94% and 61%, respectively. Conclusions: Preoperative chemoradiotherapy seems to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment with a low complication rate. The high percentage of down-staging and sphincter sparing, also in distal rectal cancer, shows the efficacy of the treatment, which could significantly influence the incidence of relapses and quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-156
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


  • Chemotherapy
  • Down-staging
  • Radiotherapy
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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