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Br J Surg. 2010 Apr;97(4):580-7. doi: 10.1002/bjs.6914.

Interim analysis of the Stockholm III trial of preoperative radiotherapy regimens for rectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.



To address issues regarding the fractionation of radiotherapy (RT) and timing of surgery for rectal cancer, a multicentre trial has randomized patients to preoperative short-course RT with two different intervals to surgery, or long-course RT with delayed surgery. The present interim analysis assessed feasibility, compliance and complications after RT and surgery.


Some 303 patients were randomized to either short-course RT (5 x 5 Gy) and surgery within 1 week (group 1), short-course RT and surgery after 4-8 weeks (group 2) or long-course RT (25 x 2 Gy) and surgery after 4-8 weeks (group 3).


Demographic data were similar between groups and there were few protocol violations (5.0-6 per cent). Eight patients (2.6 per cent) developed radiation-induced acute toxicity. There were no significant differences in postoperative complications between groups (46.6, 40.0 and 32 per cent in groups 1, 2 and 3 respectively; P = 0.164). Patients receiving short-course RT with surgery 11-17 days after the start of RT had the highest complication rate (24 of 37).


Compliance was acceptable and severe acute toxicity was low, irrespective of fractionation. Short-course RT with immediate surgery had a tendency towards more postoperative complications, but only if surgery was delayed beyond 10 days after the start of RT.


NCT00904813 (

Copyright (c) 2010 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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