Additional chemotherapy and salvage surgery for poor response to chemoradiotherapy in rectal cancers

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A proportion of locally advanced rectal cancer patients who receive neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NACRT) are still unresectable. This study was undertaken to assess the outcomes of giving additional chemotherapy to rectal cancer patients with unresectable disease after NACRT.


Patients with poor response to NACRT where mesorectal fascia was still involved on MRI and R0 resection was doubtful, received additional four cycles of chemotherapy with either CAPOX or FOLFIRINOX regimen, and the response was reevaluated with MRI and reassessed for surgical resection.


Between June 2012 and December 2014, 50 patients received additional chemotherapy with CAPOX regime (19%, 38%) or FOLFIRINOX (31%, 62%) after CRT. Median number of chemotherapy cycles received was four (range 2–8 cycles). Overall 34 (68%) patients underwent exploration and 31 (62%) underwent R0 resection. The median time to surgery following chemoradiation was 5 months (range 3–18 months). Complete pathological response was seen in seven (22%) patients.


Patients with poor response to NACRT may be further downstaged using additional chemotherapy so as to achieve R0 resection in 62% of cases.

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