Brief Preoperative Radiotherapy reduces Local Recurrences and Improves Survival in Rectal Cancer
T. Peretz, Z. Weshler,* Y. Goldberg, A.L. Durst, H.R. Freund
Depts. of Surgery and Oncology, Hadassah University Hospitals, and Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Ein Kerem and Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem
Locoregional recurrence of rectal cancer ranges between 20%-50% following apparently radical surgery. Radiation has the potential of reducing this high rate of recurrence and residual disease. A retrospective analysis of 78 patients with locally advanced, biopsy proven, adenocarcinoma of the rectum treated between 1980-1987 was conducted. 28 (36%) were treated by surgery alone (surgery); 29 (37%) by surgery and postoperative radiotherapy (post-op); and 21 (27%) by surgery and preoperative radiotherapy (pre-op). 41 were females and 37 males. The median age was 62 years (range 25-90).
All tumors were resectable. 42 patients (54%) underwent abdomino-perineal resection and 36 (46%) anterior resection patients [8 Dukes B1 (10%); 37 B2 (47%); 2 C1 (3%); 31 C2 (40%]. Local recurrences were verified by transanal or ultrasound guided needle biopsy.
The 5-year actuarial survival rates by the Kaplan-Meier method for 75 evaluated patients was 55%. Overall 5-year actuarial survival was significantly higher (p=0.001) in pre-op radiotherapy (95%) compared to surgery alone (45%), or surgery with postoperative radiotherapy (32%). The data were significant (p=0.006) for patients with stage B tumors, but not stage C. This trend of improved survival held also at 8-year follow-up (80% pre-op; 32% post-op; 27% surgery). The 5-year actuarial local control was significantly better (p=0.03) for the pre-op irradiated patients (22%), compared with surgery only (56%) and post-op radiotherapy (38%). Local control was better (p=0.02) for Dukes B tumors in the preoperative group, but not Dukes C tumors.
Actuarial 5-year survival of those without distant metastases was 87% for pre-op patients, 62% for surgery alone and 48% for post-op radiotherapy. As all patients were clinically classified as advanced rectal tumors, tumor downstaging by preoperative radiotherapy seems to be paramount for local control. Improved local control translates into a siginificant advantage in overall actuarial survival.