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Schaffer, Moshe; Thoma, M.; Wilkowski, R.; Schaffer, Pamela Manuela and Dühmke, Eckhart (2002): Radio-chemotherapy as a preoperative treatment for advanced rectal cancer. Evaluation of down-staging and morbidity. In: Onkologie, No. 4: pp. 352-356 [PDF, 64kB]

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Background: The standard therapy for patients with clinically resectable rectal cancer is generally considered to be surgery, If the patient is diagnosed with advanced disease, postoperative radiochemotherapy (RCT) is usually recommended. In our study we aimed to investigate and analyze the effectiveness and toxicity of preoperative pelvic radiotherapy in combination with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in locally advanced rectal cancer. Patients and Methods: From June 1999 to September 2001 we evaluated 50 consecutive patients {[}37 male and 13 female; average age 65.1 (range 46-79.5) years] with locally advanced rectal carcinoma. 32 patients were staged as uT3, 14 as uT4, and 4 as uT2. Regarding N-staging, 22 patients were diagnosed as ONO. 2 patients had distant metastases, with liver metastases in both instances. Conformal irradiation was performed with a box technique 4-field technique) with a dose of 45 Gy (5 x 1.8 Gy per week for a total of 25 sessions). From days 1-5 and 29-33, all patients received 5-FU (500 mg/m(2) per day, as a continuous i.v. injection). Results: Remission was observed in 28 patients (56%), with down-staging of at least one T-stage. A better success rate was achieved for patients with deep-seated tumors (64% of the patients in this group). Complete remission was observed in 4 patients (8.0%) and progression in 3 (6.0%). 15 patients had no detectable change in tumor staging (30.0%). A surgical R0 resection could be achieved in 43 patients, an R1 resection (minimal margins in 7. Side effects and toxicity (common toxicity criteria) of RCT included grade I-II dysuria in 5 patients (10%), grade I-II diarrhea in 20 patients (40%), and severe diarrhea in 2 patients (4.0%). Grade I-II skin reaction was noticed in 22 patients (44.0%), severe skin reaction only in 1 patient. Regarding acute postoperative morbidity, abscess and fistula formation was noted in 8 patients (16.0%), with anastomosis leakage in 7 (14%). Conclusion: Preoperative radiotherapy appears to be a feasible therapeutic approach with moderate toxicity and the potential to induce down-staging. The data presented in this study confirm the preliminary reports on this neoadjuvant treatment.

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