We analyzed the safety and feasibility of preoperative short-course radiotherapy (SCRT) followed by consolidation chemotherapy for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC).
From April 2018 to May 2019, 19 patients with LARC were treated with SCRT followed by three cycles of consolidation chemotherapy with leucovorin, fluorouracil, and oxaliplatin (FOLFOX6) before surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy relied on oxaliplatin. Tumor response, patient compliance, and toxicities were analyzed.
The median age was 60 years (range 44-71), and 16 of the patients were male. The median tumor height was 5 cm (range 0-9) from anal verge. All patients received a total dose of 25 Gy in five fractions. The number of cycles of FOLFOX6 before surgery was three in 17, four in one, five in one. Five patients required dose reductions in consolidation chemotherapy. The median interval between initiation of SCRT and surgery was 10.6 weeks (range 8.6-16.4). A pathologic complete response was seen in two patients (11%). Grade III toxicities to the preoperative treatment were seen in five patients (26%): diarrhea in two, a decreased white blood cell count in one, and anemia in two. Postoperative complications arising within 30 days developed in five patients (26%). During the median follow-up period of 20.4 months, there was no tumor recurrence.
Preoperative SCRT followed by oxaliplatin-based consolidation chemotherapy showed acceptable toxicity and feasibility in patients with LARC. Prospective randomized trials are warranted to verify the efficacy and safety of this treatment strategy compared with conventional long-course concurrent chemoradiotherapy.