BACKGROUND: The use of preoperative chemoirradiation is the commonest treatment strategy employed in Malaysia for locally advanced rectal cancer. We need to determine the local control and survival rates for comparison with established rates in the literature.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This retrospective study analyzed all newly diagnosed patients with rectal adenocarcinoma who underwent long course preoperative radiotherapy (RT) at the Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) between 1st January 2004 and 31st December 2010. The aim of the study was to determine the radiological response post radiotherapy, pathological response including circumferential resection margin (CRM) status, 3 years local control, 3 years overall survival (OS) and 3 years disease free survival (DFS). Statistical analysis was performed using the SPSS software. Kaplan-Meier and log rank analysis were used to determine survival outcomes.
RESULTS: A total of 507 patients with rectal cancer underwent RT at HKL. Sixty seven who underwent long course preoperative RT were eligible for this study. The median age at diagnosis was 60 years old with a range of 26-78 years. The median tumour location was 6 cm from the anal verge. Most patients had suspicion of mesorectum involvement (95.5%) while 28.4% of patients had enlarged pelvic nodes on staging CT scan. All patients underwent preoperative chemo-irradiation except for five who had preoperative RT alone. Only 38 patients underwent definitive surgery (56.7%). Five patients were deemed to be inoperable radiologically and 3 patients were found to have unresectable disease intraoperatively. The remaining 21 patients defaulted surgery (31.3%). The median time from completion of RT to surgery was 8 weeks (range 5.6 to 29.4 weeks). Fifteen patients (39.5%) had surgery more than 8 weeks after completion of RT. Complete pathological response was noted in 4 patients (10.5%). The pathological CRM positive rate after RT was 18.4%. With a median follow-up of 38.8 months, the 3 year local control rate was 67%. The 3 years rate for CRM positive (<2 mm), CRM clear (>2 mm) and pCR groups were 0%, 88.1% and 100% respectively (p-value of 0.007). The 3 year OS and DFS were 57.3% and 44.8% respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, the approach of long course preoperative chemoirradiation for rectal cancer needs to be re-examined in our local setting. The high rate of local recurrence is worrying and is mainly due to patient defaulting post-preoperative chemoirradiation or delayed definitive surgery.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.