Background: the standard treatment for locally advanced rectal cancer is neoadjuvant chemo-radiotherapy, surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy. Only 50% of patients receive the adjuvant treatment due to the surgical complications and toxicity of radiotherapy. Recently, neoadjuvant chemotherapy has been investigated in the locally advanced rectal cancer setting, with the aim of guaranteeing an uninterrupted systemic treatment. The objective of the present study was to assess the safety and efficacy of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in locally advanced rectal cancer.
Methods and patients: patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surgery were identified from a prospective database of patients with rectal cancer (cII-III). The primary outcomes were the assessment of the number of R0 resections, the degree of pathologic response, patterns of recurrence and overall and disease-free survival. Treatment schedule: patients received 6-8 cycles of oxaliplatin and fluoropyrimides based chemotherapy.
Results: twenty-seven patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy were identified. Twenty-six anterior resections and one Hartmann intervention were performed. An R0 resection was performed in 27 (100%) patients and no involvement of the circumferential margin was observed. Complete pathologic response (ypT0N0) was confirmed in four (14.8%) patients.The median follow-up was 35 months (range: 10-81) and four distant recurrences were recorded. Overall and disease-free survival at five years was 85% and 84.7%, respectively. Twenty-seven (100%) patients received all the cycles of chemotherapy, with a mean of six cycles (range 5-8) per patient.
Conclusions: neoadjuvant chemotherapy is a promising alternative in the locally advanced rectal cancer setting and further phase III clinical trials are clearly warranted.