Association of Adjuvant Chemotherapy With Overall Survival in Patients With Rectal Cancer and Pathologic Complete Response Following Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy and Resection

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ImportanceAdjuvant chemotherapy (AC) in patients with rectal cancer with pathologic complete response following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) and resection is recommended by treatment guidelines. However, its role in this setting is equivocal because data supporting benefits are lacking.ObjectiveTo compare the overall survival (OS) between AC and postoperative observation (OB) in patients with rectal cancer with pathologic complete response following nCRT and resection.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsWe identified a cohort of patients with rectal cancer and a complete pathological response (ypT0N0) after nCRT in the National Cancer Database between 2006 and 2012. Patients who received AC were compared with OB patients by propensity score matching. Overall survival was compared using the stratified log-rank test and stratified Cox regression model. The outcomes after AC vs OB were also evaluated in patient subgroups. The data analysis was completed in June 2017.ExposuresAdjuvant chemotherapy and OB.Main Outcomes and MeasuresOverall survival.ResultsWe identified 2764 patients (mean [SD] age, 60.0 [12.3] years; 40% female) with clinical stage II or III resected adenocarcinoma of the rectum who had received nCRT and were complete responders (ypT0N0M0). Of this cohort, 741 patients in the AC group were matched by propensity score to 741 patients who underwent OB. The AC cohort had better OS compared with the OB cohort (hazard ratio, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.32-0.79). The 1-, 3-, and 5-year OS rates were 99.7%, 97.1%, and 94.7% for the AC group and 99.2%, 93.6%, and 88.4% for the OB group (P = .005). In subgroup analysis, patients with clinical stage T3/T4 and node-positive disease benefited most from AC (hazard ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.25-0.91).Conclusions and RelevanceAdjuvant chemotherapy was associated with improved OS in patients with pathologic complete response after nCRT for resected locally advanced rectal cancer. This study supports the use of AC in this setting where there is currently paucity of data.

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