The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a combination of preoperative radiotherapy
and chemotherapy for operable locally advanced rectal cancer
(Stages II and III).
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are started jointly on day one of the therapy. 5-Fluorouracil is given in a dosage of 1000 mg/ m2
/day as a continuous 24-hour infusion for 4 days. Mitomycin C is given as a bolus intravenous at a dosage of 10 mg/m2
the first day. The radiation therapy is given to a total dosage of 37.8 Gy. Surgery is generally performed four to five weeks following completion of the radiation therapy. From March 1990 to April 1993, 34 patients with histologically documented adenocarcinoma of the rectum
have been treated. Twenty-one lesions were located in the lower third of the rectum
. Twenty-nine neoplasms were judged by initial clinical staging as Stage III.
Patients compliance to the treatment have been 97 percent. Toxicity of treatment has been low (15 percent). Tumor sizes decreased 50 percent or more in about 80 percent of patients. Distance of the tumor from the anal canal increased in all but seven cases. Twenty-two anterior resections have been performed. The morbidity rate has been 24 percent. No postoperative mortality has been reported. Histologic examination of surgical specimens after integrated treatment showed in 10 cases a tumor confined to the rectal wall (T2), in 3 patients only a residual tumor limited to submucosa (T1), and in 5 (15 percent) patients no evidence of neoplastic cells (T0).
We conclude that preoperative radiochemotherapy was generally well tolerated; in all cases we had a reduction of tumor sizes, surgery presented no technical difficulties, and there was the effect of stage reduction.