Laparoscopic resection with intraoperative radiotherapy: a new step in the multimodal treatment of advanced colorectal cancer
PURPOSE The survival advantage of preoperative radiotherapy in patients with rectal cancer is still a matter of debate, because its incremental benefit in the total mesorectal excision setting is unclear. This study was designed to evaluate early and long-term results of preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy in a homogeneous population of T3 middle and lower rectal cancer patients submitted to total mesorectal excision. METHODS A series of 113 patients with middle and lower T3 rectal cancer consecutively submitted to total mesorectal excision at a single surgical unit from 1991 to 1997 were divided into two groups according to type of neoadjuvant treatment: preoperative radiotherapy (38 Gy) plus intraoperative radiotherapy (10 Gy; n = 69), and no preoperative treatment (total mesorectal excision; n = 44). Standard statistical analyses were used to evaluate early (downstaging, intraoperative factors, hospital morbidity, and mortality rates) and long-term results (recurrence and survival). RESULTS Overall, 68.2 percent of patients were downstaged by the preoperative regimens (T0 specimens in 3 cases). Postoperative complications were comparable in the two groups. Five-year, disease-specific survival was 81.4 and 58.1 percent in preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy group and total mesorectal excision group, respectively (P = 0.052). Corresponding figures for disease-free survival were 73.1 and 57.2 percent in the two groups, respectively (P = 0.096). The rates of local recurrence at five years were 6.6 and 23.2 percent in preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy and total mesorectal excision groups, respectively (P = 0.017). CONCLUSIONS Preoperative radiotherapy plus intraoperative radiotherapy associated with total mesorectal excision reduce local recurrence rate and improve survival in T3 rectal cancer compared with total mesorectal excision alone.