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Clinical colorectal cancer


PURPOSE: Short-course radiation therapy (SCRT) and nonoperative management are emerging paradigms for rectal cancer treatment. This clinical trial is the first to evaluate SCRT followed by chemotherapy as a nonoperative treatment modality.

METHODS: Patients with nonmetastatic rectal adenocarcinoma were treated on the single-arm, Nonoperative Radiation Management of Adenocarcinoma of the Lower Rectum study of SCRT followed by chemotherapy. Patients received 25 Gy in 5 fractions to the pelvis followed by FOLFOX ×8 or CAPOX ×5 cycles. Patients with clinical complete response (cCR) underwent nonoperative surveillance. The primary end point was cCR at 1 year. Secondary end points included safety profile and anorectal function.

RESULTS: From June 2016 to March 2019, 19 patients were treated (21% stage I, 32% stage II, and 47% stage III disease). At a median follow-up of 27.7 months for living patients, the 1-year cCR rate was 68%. Eighteen of 19 patients are alive without evidence of disease. Patients with cCR versus without had improved 2-year disease-free survival (93% vs 67%; P = .006), distant metastasis-free survival (100% vs 67%; P = .03), and overall survival (100% vs 67%; P = .03). Involved versus uninvolved circumferential resection margin on magnetic resonance imaging was associated with less initial cCR (40% vs 93%; P = .04). Anorectal function by Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colorectal cancer score at 1 year was not different than baseline. There were no severe late effects.

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with SCRT and chemotherapy resulted in high cCR rate, intact anorectal function, and no severe late effects. NCT02641691.

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