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Ann Surg. 2011 Jul;254(1):97-102. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182196e1f.

Optimal timing of surgery after chemoradiation for advanced rectal cancer: preliminary results of a multicenter, nonrandomized phase II prospective trial.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, City of Hope, Duarte, CA 91010, USA.



To determine whether extending the interval between chemoradiation (CRT) and surgery, and administering additional chemotherapy during the waiting period has an impact on tumor response, CRT-related toxicity and surgical complications in patients with advanced rectal cancer.


Locally advanced rectal cancer is usually treated with preoperative CRT followed by surgery approximately 6 weeks later. The Timing of Rectal Cancer Response to Chemoradiation Consortium designed a prospective, multicenter, Phase II clinical trial to investigate extending the interval between CRT and surgery, and administering additional chemotherapy during the waiting period. Here, we present preliminary results of this trial, reporting the tumor response, CRT-related toxicity and surgical complications.


Stage II and III rectal cancer patients were treated concurrently with 5-Fluorouracil (FU) and radiation for 5 to 6 weeks. Patients in study group (SG) 1 underwent total mesorectal excision (TME) 6 weeks later. Patients in SG2 with evidence of a clinical response 4 weeks after CRT received 2 cycles of modified FOLFOX-6 (mFOLFOX-6) followed by TME 3 to 5 weeks later. Tumor response, CRT-related toxicity and surgical complications were recorded.


One hundred and forty-four patients were accrued. One hundred and thirty-six (66, SG1; 70, SG2) were evaluated for CRT-related toxicity. One hundred and twenty-seven (60, SG1; 67, SG2) were assessed for tumor response and surgical complications. A similar proportion of patients completed CRT per protocol in both SGs, but the cumulative dose of sensitizing 5-FU and radiation was higher in SG2. CRT-related toxicity was comparable between SGs. Average time from CRT-to-surgery was 6 (SG1) and 11 weeks (SG2). Pathologic complete response (pCR) was 18% (SG1) and 25% (SG2). Postoperative complications were similar between SGs.


Intense neoadjuvant therapy consisting of CRT followed by additional chemotherapy (mFOLFOX-6), and delaying surgery may result in a modest increase in pCR rate without increasing complications in patients undergoing TME for locally advanced rectal cancer.


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