Neoadjuvant chemoradiation followed by surgery is the current standard of care in the treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer. Those who achieved pathologic complete response, following this standard of care, complete pathologic response (pCR) had better outcome. Until now there are no reliable clinical parameters to predict this response. The purpose of the study was to evaluate whether tumor volume may serve as a predictive factor in patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy.
Materials and Methods:
Between September 2015 and September 2019, patients diagnosed with stage IIA to IIIC rectal adenocarcinoma, who were treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation, were enrolled to this study. All patients underwent rectal ultrasound, pelvic magnetic resonance imaging, fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography-computed tomography and the diagnosis was confirmed by pathology report. Radiation therapy was consisted of 50 Gy delivered to the tumor site, 2 Gy a day, 5 times a week and to the pelvic lymph nodes for a total of 45 Gy in 1.8 Gy a day, 5 times a week. The gross tumor volume (GTV) was contoured by radiation oncology expert, reviewed by radiology and nuclear medicine expert and approved by radiation therapy tumor board. Chemotherapy was consisted of either capecitabine 875 mg/m2 twice a day or continuous. IV infusion of 5 fluorouracil 375 mg/m2 for 4 consecutive days in a 3 weeks apart. Operation, either low anterior or abdominoperineal resection was carried out 6 to 8 weeks following completion of treatment. Patients were assigned to either complete pathologic response (pCR) or non-pCR groups. GTV, among other clinical and treatment parameters, were evaluated for prediction of pCR. Statistical methods included independent t test, logistic regression, area under the curve-receiver operating characteristic, Bayesian independent statistics and multilayer perceptron model.
One hundred ninety-three patients were enrolled to this study, 6 were excluded due to metastatic disease detected at the time of operation. Seventy had stage II and 117 had stage III. Forty-four of 187 (23.5%) patients achieved pCR and 143 patients had either partial or no response/progressive disease. Among the 44 pCR group, 21 had stage II and 23 had stage III disease. Treatment interruption, defined as either a delay of up to 1 week in radiation, and a dose reduction to 75%, was occurred in 42 patients. Sex, ethnicity, distance from anal verge to tumor, height, weight, age, delivered radiation dose, radiotherapy techniques, clinical T and N stage and GTV were evaluated for prediction of pCR. GTV at the volume of <39.5 cm3 was the only significant predictive factor to detect pCR by logistic regression model (P<0.01) and by Bayesian independent test (P=0.026). Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of GTV <39.5 cm3 showed area under the curve of 0.715 (P=0.009) for stage II and area under the curve of 0.62 (P>0.05) for stage III.
GTV may serve as a predictive factor for achieving pCR in locally advanced rectal cancer after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy.