Colon and Rectum
Preoperative radiotherapy combined with intraoperative radiotherapy improve results of total mesorectal extision in patients with T3 rectal cancer

Dis Colon Rectum. 2004 Feb;47(2):170-9

Pacelli F, Di Giorgio A, Papa V, Tortorelli AP, Covino M, Ratto C, Bossola M, Valentini V, Sofo L, Miccichè F, Gambacorta MA, Doglietto GB.

Department of Surgical Sciences–Digestive Surgery Unit, Catholic University, School of Medicine, Rome, Italy.

The survival advantage of preoperative radiotherapy in patients with rectal cancer is still a matter of debate, because its incremental benefit in the total mesorectal excision setting is unclear. This study was designed to evaluate early and long-term results of preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy in a homogeneous population of T3 middle and lower rectal cancer patients submitted to total mesorectal excision.

A series of 113 patients with middle and lower T3 rectal cancer consecutively submitted to total mesorectal excision at a single surgical unit from 1991 to 1997 were divided into two groups according to type of neoadjuvant treatment: preoperative radiotherapy (38 Gy) plus intraoperative radiotherapy (10 Gy; n = 69), and no preoperative treatment (total mesorectal excision; n = 44). Standard statistical analyses were used to evaluate early (downstaging, intraoperative factors, hospital morbidity, and mortality rates) and long-term results (recurrence and survival).

Overall, 68.2 percent of patients were downstaged by the preoperative regimens (T0 specimens in 3 cases). Postoperative complications were comparable in the two groups. Five-year, disease-specific survival was 81.4 and 58.1 percent in preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy group and total mesorectal excision group, respectively (P = 0.052). Corresponding figures for disease-free survival were 73.1 and 57.2 percent in the two groups, respectively (P = 0.096). The rates of local recurrence at five years were 6.6 and 23.2 percent in preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy and total mesorectal excision groups, respectively (P = 0.017).

Preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy associated with total mesorectal excision reduce local recurrence rate and improve survival in T3 rectal cancer compared with total mesorectal excision alone.