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Ann Ital Chir. 2003 Sep-Oct;74(5):555-8.

Evaluation of DOWNSTAGING as leading concept in sphincter-saving surgery for rectal cancer after preoperative radio-chemotherapy (Preop RCT).

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  • 1Department of General, Geriatric and Oncological Surgery and Advanced Techniques, University of Naples "Federico II", Italy.



To evaluate the downstaging of rectal cancer after preop R +/- CT.


392 patients (pts) with rectal cancer were observed. Only 172 pts (58%) with II and III stage cancer of middle and lower third were examined. Enrol-led pts were 168: 52 of them received preop R +/- CT (32 RT, 20 R + CT). Preop R +/- CT group included 14 middle third cancers (73%), 38 lower third (17%). In this group, tumor stage was as follows: 44 T3 stage tumors (86.4%), 8 (15.4%) T4. Mean age of this group was 57 years (range 42-67). Patients received 45 Gy for 5 weeks in 25 fractions and continuous administration of 5-FU (300-500 mg/m2/die). Surgery was performed 6 weeks +/- 7 days after the therapy.


Downstaging, at least of 1 T-stage level, was detected in 45 patients (86%) (8 middle third; 32 lower third), in 5 (9.6%) (4 middle third, 1 lower third), tumor decreased to pT0N0, while in 7 (13.5%) (2 middle third, 5 lower third), there was no response. An Anterior Resection (AR) was performed in 40 patients (77%) [4 Downstaged to pT0N0 middle third cancers; 36 downstaged but with residual disease (8 middle third, 28 lower third)]; APR was performed in 12 (23%) (7 No responders patients, 1 Downstaged to pT0N0 lower third cancer, 4 downstaged but with residual disease of lower third).


Preop R +/- CT is effective in obtaining a significative downstaging to allow sphincter saving surgery, without compromising oncological results.

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