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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Nov 1;66(3):762-71.

Phase II study of capecitabine (Xeloda) and concomitant boost radiotherapy in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.



The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of capecitabine (Xeloda), an oral fluoropyrimidine, as a radiosensitizer in the neoadjuvant treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC).


We conducted a phase II study of capecitabine (825 mg/m2 orally, twice daily continuous) with radiotherapy (52.5 Gy/30 fractions to the primary tumor and perirectal nodes) in 54 patients with LARC (node-negative > or = T3 or any node-positive tumor) staged by endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). The primary endpoint was pathologic response rate; secondary endpoints included toxicity profiles and survival parameters.


Of the 54 patients (median age, 56.7 years; range, 21.3-78.7 years; male:female ratio, 1.7; Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0-1: 100%), 51 patients (94%) had T3N0 or T3N1 disease by EUS. Surgery was not performed in 3 patients; 2 of these patients had metastatic disease, and the third patient refused after a complete clinical response. Of the 51 patients evaluable for pathologic response, 9 patients (18%) achieved complete response, and 12 patients (24%) had microscopic residual disease (< 10% viable cells). In addition, 26 patients of all 54 patients (51%) achieved T-downstaging, and 15 patients of 29 patients (52%) achieved N-downstaging. Grade 3/4 toxicities were radiation dermatitis (9%) and diarrhea (2%). Sphincter preservation rate for tumor < or = 5 cm from the anal verge was 67% (18/27).


This regimen of radiotherapy plus capecitabine is well tolerated and is more convenient than protracted venous infusion of 5-FU. The pathologic response rate is comparable to our previous experience using protracted venous infusion 5-FU for LARC.

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