A Dose-finding and Biomarker Evaluation Phase Ib Study of Everolimus in Association With 5-Fluorouracil and Pelvic Radiotherapy as Neoadjuvant Treatment of Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer (E-LARC Study)

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Neoadjuvant chemoradiation represents the mainstay of the treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). However, despite substantial improvements in previous years, patients still develop relapses and eventually die of metastatic disease. In the present phase Ib dose-escalation trial, everolimus added to standard chemoradiation did not seem to worsen toxicity. The activity of this combination warrants further evaluation in larger clinical trials.


During the past 20 years, considerable improvement has occurred in the treatment of patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). With the introduction of multimodal treatment, refinements in preclinical staging and improvements in surgical skills, local relapse is no longer the major problem for patients with LARC. However, many patients die of metastatic disease. The present phase Ib study aimed to establish the maximum tolerated dose of everolimus combined with 5-fluorouracil and radiotherapy in patients with LARC.

Patients and Methods

Patients were sequentially assigned to 4 cohorts with an increasing dose of everolimus, starting from 14 days before 5-fluorouracil and radiotherapy and continuing throughout concomitant treatment. The secondary endpoints were the Dworak tumor regression grade, pathologic complete response rate, neoadjuvant rectal score, biomarker assessment (phosphorylated mTOR [mammalian target of rapamycin] protein and phosphorylated-p70S6K protein).


At the time of this report, 12 patients had been treated, and no dose-limiting toxicity was recorded. The most frequently reported acute toxicities were rectal tenesmus, skin rash, diarrhea, and dysuria. All 12 patients underwent curative R0 resection. Two patients had Dworak tumor regression grade 4 (pathologic complete response). No everolimus-related postoperative complications were observed. No relationship was found between biomarker expression and the clinicopathologic outcomes.


Although the addition of everolimus did not appear to worsen the toxicity of chemoradiation in patients with LARC, evaluation of its activity deserves further investigation in larger clinical trials.

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