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Radiat Oncol J. 2012 Dec;30(4):205-12. doi: 10.3857/roj.2012.30.4.205. Epub 2012 Dec 31.

The role of postoperative pelvic radiation in stage IV rectal cancer after resection of primary tumor.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



To evaluate the effect of pelvic radiotherapy (RT) in patients with stage IV rectal cancer treated with resection of primary tumor with or without metastasectomy.


Medical records of 112 patients with stage IV rectal cancer treated with resection of primary tumor between 1990 and 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Fifty-nine patients received synchronous or staged metastasectomy whereas fifty-three patients did not. Twenty-six patients received pelvic radiotherapy.


Median overall survival (OS), locoregional recurrence-free survival (LRFS), and progression-free survival (PFS) of all patients was 27, 70, and 11 months, respectively. Pathologic T (pT), N (pN) classification and complete metastasectomy were statistically significant factors in OS (p = 0.040, 0.020, and 0.002, respectively). RT did not improve OS or LRFS. There were no significant factors in LRFS. pT and pN classification were also significant prognostic factors in PFS (p = 0.010 and p = 0.033, respectively). In the subgroup analysis, RT improved LRFS in patients with pT4 disease (p = 0.026). The locoregional failure rate of the RT group and the non-RT group were 23.1% and 33.7%, showing no difference in the failure pattern of both groups (p = 0.260).


Postoperative pelvic RT did not improve LRFS of all metastatic rectal cancer patients; however, it can be recommended to patients with pT4 disease. A complete resection of metastatic masses should be performed if possible.


Local neoplasm recurrence; Neoplasm metastasis; Radiotherapy; Rectal neoplasms

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