Long-Term Patient-Reported Outcomes After High-Dose Chemoradiation Therapy for Nonsurgical Management of Distal Rectal Cancer

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Purpose: Surgery is standard treatment for rectal cancer, but neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (CRT) may result in clinical complete response (cCR) in select patients, allowing for nonsurgical management (NSM). Prospective studies of NSM strategies are sparse, however, and long-term data on quality of life (QoL) are limited. We conducted a single-arm phase 2 trial of high-dose CRT for NSM of distal rectal cancer; we report secondary long-term patient-reported outcomes (PROs), local regrowth, and overall survival in patients managed nonsurgically. Methods and Materials: Fifty-one patients with resectable, T2 or T3, N0-N1, low adenocarcinoma received 65 Gy (intensity modulated radiation therapy, brachytherapy boost) and oral tegafur-uracil. Patients with cCR 6 weeks after treatment (clinical examination, magnetic resonance imaging, biopsy) were referred for observation and followed closely with clinical examination, endoscopy, positron emission tomography/computed tomography, and PROs for 5 years. Overall colorectal cancer–specific QoL and specific symptom scores were evaluated at baseline and in follow-up and compared between time points. Local regrowth was estimated using cumulative incidence and overall survival using Kaplan-Meier estimates. Results: Forty patients achieved cCR after treatment; 29 were in follow-up at 24 months, 21 at 36 months, and 20 at 60 months. PRO questionnaire completion rates were 90% at 24 months, 100% at 36 months, and 85% at 60 months for patients still in follow-up. Average QoL score did not differ between baseline (median 11.1) and 24 months (13.7), 48 months (11.1), or 60 months (6.9). Only rectal bleeding deteriorated from baseline, with bowel- and bladder-related symptom scores otherwise unchanged in follow-up. At median follow-up of 5.0 years, local regrowth rate and overall survival were 31% (95% confidence interval, 15%-47%) and 85% (95% confidence interval, 75%-97%), respectively. Conclusions: Long-term follow-up after NSM of distal rectal cancer showed excellent general colorectal cancer QoL and local symptom scores. Our study results indicate that high-dose CRT followed by organ preservation might be an alternative to standard treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology - Biology - Physics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)556-563
Publication statusPublished - 1. Mar 2020


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