Oxaliplatin, fluorouracil, and leucovorin versus fluorouracil and leucovorin as adjuvant chemotherapy for locally advanced rectal cancer after preoperative chemoradiotherapy (ADORE): an open-label, multicentre, phase 2, randomised controlled trial

Yong Sang Hong, Byung-Ho Nam, Kyu-Pyo Kim, Jeong Eun Kim, Seong Joon Park, Young Suk Park, Joon Oh Park, Sun Young Kim, Tae-You Kim, Jee Hyun Kim, Joong Bae Ahn, Seok-Byung Lim, Chang Sik Yu, Jin Cheon Kim, Seong Hyeon Yun, Jong Hoon Kim, Jin-Hong Park, Hee Chul Park, Kyung Hae Jung, Tae Won Kim
Lancet Oncology 2014, 15 (11): 1245-53

BACKGROUND: The role of adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with rectal cancer is controversial, especially when used after preoperative chemoradiotherapy. Fluoropyrimidine-based adjuvant chemotherapy, including fluorouracil and leucovorin, has been widely used; however, the addition of oxaliplatin to fluorouracil and leucovorin (FOLFOX), a standard adjuvant regimen for colon cancer, has not been tested in rectal cancer. We aimed to compare the efficacy and safety of adjuvant fluorouracil and leucovorin with that of FOLFOX in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer after preoperative chemoradiotherapy.

METHODS: In this open-label, multicentre, phase 2, randomised trial, patients with postoperative pathological stage II (ypT3-4N0) or III (ypTanyN1-2) rectal cancer after preoperative fluoropyrimidine-based chemoradiotherapy and total mesorectal excision were recruited and randomly assigned (1:1) via a web-based software platform to receive adjuvant chemotherapy with either four cycles of fluorouracil and leucovorin (fluorouracil 380 mg/m(2) and leucovorin 20 mg/m(2) on days 1-5, every 4 weeks) or eight cycles of FOLFOX (oxaliplatin 85 mg/m(2), leucovorin 200 mg/m(2), and fluorouracil bolus 400 mg/m(2) on day 1, and fluorouracil infusion 2400 mg/m(2) for 46 h, every 2 weeks). Stratification factors were pathological stage (II vs III) and centre. Neither patients nor investigators were masked to group assignment. The primary endpoint was 3-year disease-free survival, analysed by intention to treat. This study is fully enrolled, is in long-term follow-up, and is registered with, number NCT00807911.

FINDINGS: Between Nov 19, 2008, and June 12, 2012, 321 patients were randomly assigned to fluorouracil and leucovorin (n=161) and FOLFOX (n=160). 141 (95%) of 149 patients in the fluorouracil plus leucovorin group and 141 (97%) of 146 in the FOLFOX group completed all planned cycles of adjuvant treatment. Median follow-up was 38·2 months (IQR 26·4-50·6). 3-year disease-free survival was 71·6% (95% CI 64·6-78·6) in the FOLFOX group and 62·9% (55·4-70·4) in the fluorouracil plus leucovorin group (hazard ratio 0·657, 95% CI 0·434-0·994; p=0·047). Any grade neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, fatigue, nausea, and sensory neuropathy were significantly more common in the FOLFOX group than in the fluorouracil plus leucovorin group; however, we noted no significant difference in the frequency of these events at grade 3 or 4. The most common grade 3 or worse adverse events were neutropenia (38 [26%] of 149 patients in the fluorouracil plus leucovorin group vs 52 [36%] of 146 patients in the FOLFOX group), leucopenia (eight [5%] vs 12 [8%]), febrile neutropenia (four [3%] vs one [<1%]), diarrhoea (four [3%] vs two [1%]), and nausea (one [<1%] vs two [1%]).

INTERPRETATION: Adjuvant FOLFOX improves disease-free survival compared with fluorouracil plus leucovorin in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer after preoperative chemoradiotherapy and total mesorectal excision, and warrants further investigation.

FUNDING: Korea Healthcare Technology R&D Project (South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare).

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Christian Zalai

One issue with this paper is the length of treatment in the folfox group is longer (double) and the doses of chemo used also much higher. In a sense the deck is stacked in favor of the folfox regimen, which this trial nicely shows.


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