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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Short-term preoperative radiotherapy is a safe approach for treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer

D P Korkolis, G D Plataniotis, E Gondikakis, D Xinopoulos, G V Koulaxouzidis, J Katsilieris, P P Vassilopoulos
International Journal of Colorectal Disease 2006, 21 (1): 1-6
15947936

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The Swedish Rectal Cancer Trial (SRCT) demonstrated that a short term regimen of high-dose preoperative radiotherapy (5x5 Gy) not only reduces the risk of local recurrence but also improves overall survival rate. An increase in postoperative mortality and morbidity has also been observed, however. We therefore evaluated early postoperative complications in patients treated with neoadjuvant radiotherapy for locally advanced rectal adenocarcinoma.

PATIENTS/METHODS: Between 2000 and 2004, 85 patients with locally advanced rectal tumors were treated in our institution. Preoperative staging was based on CT scan and, in several cases, on endorectal ultrasonography. They were 55 men and 30 women, with a median age of 68 years. They were retrospectively divided into two groups: Group A, which included 40 patients undergoing preoperative radiotherapy (25 Gy in five fractions) followed by surgery within 1 week, and Group B, which included 45 patients with rectal cancer receiving surgery immediately after diagnosis. Both groups were homogeneous regarding age, gender and preoperative stage of the disease. The two groups were compared for both technical difficulties during operation and rate of postoperative complications.

RESULTS/FINDINGS: No postoperative deaths were recorded in either group. Low anterior resection with total mesorectal excision was performed in all group A patients, whereas eight patients in group B underwent abdominoperineal resection (P<0.05). Diverting stoma was performed in seven patients of group A and it was closed 3-6 months later on every occasion. Postoperative morbidity was not statistically significant between the two groups (40 vs 39%). The rate of postoperative hemorrhage, pelvic or abdominal wound infection, acute urinary infection, and delayed ileus was similar. The percentage of major anastomotic leak was also equivalent (5 vs 6.6%).

INTERPRETATION/CONCLUSION: Short-term preoperative radiotherapy does not increase the rate of postoperative complications and is a safe therapeutic adjunct for the treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer.

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