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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Dec 1;23(34):8688-96. Epub 2005 Oct 24.

Prognostic significance of tumor regression after preoperative chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer.

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Department of Radiation Therapy, University of Erlangen, Universitätsstr 27, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany.



We assessed the impact of tumor regression grading (TRG) and its value in correlation to established prognostic factors in a cohort of rectal carcinoma patients treated by preoperative chemoradiotherapy (CRT).


TRG was evaluated on surgical specimens of 385 patients treated within the preoperative CRT arm of the CAO/ARO/AIO-94 trial: 50.4 Gy was delivered, fluorouracil was given in the first and fifth week, and surgery was performed 6 weeks thereafter. TRG was determined by the amount of viable tumor versus fibrosis, ranging from TRG 4 when no viable tumor cells were detected, to TRG 0 when fibrosis was completely absent. TRG 3 was defined as regression more than 50% with fibrosis outgrowing the tumor mass, TRG 2 was defined as regression less than 50%, and TRG 1 was defined basically as a morphologically unaltered tumor mass. We performed an initially unplanned, hypothesis-generating analysis with respect to the prognostic value of this TRG system.


TRG 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 was found in 10.4%, 52.2%, 13.8%, 15.3%, and 8.3% of the resected specimens, respectively. Five-year disease-free survival (DFS) after CRT and curative resection was 86% for TRG 4, 75% for grouped TRG 2 + 3, and 63% for grouped TRG 0 + 1 (P = .006). On multivariate analysis, the pathologic T category and the nodal status after CRT were the most important independent prognostic factors for DFS.


In this exploratory analysis, complete (TRG 4) and intermediate pathologic response (TRG 2 + 3) suggested improved DFS after preoperative CRT. TRG assessment should be implemented in pathologic evaluation and prospectively validated in further studies.

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