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Colorectal Dis. 2010 Jan;12(1):33-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2009.02054.x.

Neoadjuvant chemo-radiotherapy and rectal cancer: can the UK watch and wait with Brazil?

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Derby School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health, University of Nottingham, Derby DE22 3DT, UK.



It has recently been reported that up to one-third of patients with nonmetastatic distal rectal cancer managed with neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (CRT) had a complete clinical response (cCR) to treatment. In the selected cases, this has been used as the sole treatment. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of complete pathological response for patients receiving CRT in one centre in the UK.


Patients receiving 6 weeks of neoadjuvant CRT were identified using the two cancer audit databases in two different tertiary hospitals from January 2002 to November 2007. Pathology was reviewed and the histopathological response of the resected specimen to CRT was evaluated using the Mandard classification (1 = complete response, 5 = no response)


One hundred and thirty-two consecutive patients [median age 61 (range 44-86) years, 90 men] with nonmetastatic locally advanced rectal cancer received neoadjuvant chemo radiotherapy between 2002 and 2007 followed by resection of the tumour. Data were available from 129 patients.


Only 13 out of 132 (10%) of patients had a complete pathological response. This is one-third of the cCR previously reported. Nonsurgical therapy for rectal cancer using the Habr-Gama treatment algorithm may only be effective in a very small proportion of patients with rectal cancer in the UK and nonoperative treatment would not be recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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