Background: After preoperative chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for rectal cancer, clinically undetectable residual tumour deposits or pathologic lymph nodes may remain in the mesorectum. Aim: The aim of this study was to report histopathological effects of CRT and factors affecting outcome in a uniformly treated series of locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) patients. Methods: Between 2004 and 2008, 107 patients with cT3 (threatening the mesorectal fascia or <5 cm from the anal verge), cT4 or cN2 rectal cancer were treated with preoperative CRT (25 × 2 Gy with capecitabine) and TME 6-8 weeks later. Central histopathological review followed. Tumour regression grade (TRG) was scored in pCR, near-pCR, response and no response. Cox regression was performed to identify prognosticators. Results: The 3-year distant metastasis-free interval, disease-free rate and overall survival rate were 82%, 73% and 87% (median 44 months follow-up). TRG consisted of 20% pCR, 11% near-pCR, 55% response and 14% no response. 6/21 pCR patients harboured nodal metastases. 5/12 near-pCR had ypT3 disease, while 6 harboured node metastases. 5/12 near-PCR patients developed distant metastases. ypN and TRG were powerful outcome discriminators. Conclusion: The high number of near-pCR with ypT3 or ypN1/2 and their poor outcome demonstrates that "watch-and-wait" in LARC patients should be applied with care.
- Rectal cancer
- Tumour regression grade
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging