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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Jul 15;71(4):1181-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2007.11.035. Epub 2008 Jan 30.

Interval between surgery and neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy for distal rectal cancer: does delayed surgery have an impact on outcome?

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Habr-Gama Research Institute, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



The optimal interval between neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (CRT) and surgery in the treatment of patients with distal rectal cancer is controversial. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether this interval has an impact on survival.


Patients who underwent surgery after CRT were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with a sustained complete clinical response (cCR) 1 year after CRT were excluded from this study. Clinical and pathologic characteristics and overall and disease-free survival were compared between patients undergoing surgery 12 weeks or less from CRT and patients undergoing surgery longer than 12 weeks from CRT completion and between patients with a surgery delay caused by a suspected cCR and those with a delay for other reasons.


Two hundred fifty patients underwent surgery, and 48.4% had CRT-to-surgery intervals of 12 weeks or less. There were no statistical differences in overall survival (86% vs. 81.6%) or disease-free survival rates (56.5% and 58.9%) between patients according to interval (< or =12 vs. >12 weeks). Patients with intervals of 12 weeks or less had significantly higher rates of Stage III disease (34% vs. 20%; p = 0.009). The delay in surgery was caused by a suspected cCR in 23 patients (interval, 48 +/- 10.3 weeks). Five-year overall and disease-free survival rates for this subset were 84.9% and 51.6%, not significantly different compared with the remaining group (84%; p = 0.96 and 57.8%; p = 0.76, respectively).


Delay in surgery for the evaluation of tumor response after neoadjuvant CRT is safe and does not negatively affect survival. These results support the hypothesis that shorter intervals may interrupt ongoing tumor necrosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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