Results of phase II trial of intensified neoadjuvant treatment with interdigitating radiotherapy and chemotherapy with oxaliplatin, 5-fluorouracil and folinic acid in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (PROARCT trial)

Sweet Ping Ng, Julie Chu, Sarat Chander, Mathias Bressel, Joseph McKendrick, Rachel Wong, Malcolm Steel, William K. Murray, Trevor Leong, Alexander Heriot, Michael Michael, Samuel Y. Ngan

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Background and purpose: The chemotherapy exposure during chemoradiotherapy for rectal cancer is adequate for radiosensitization but suboptimal for treatment of distant micrometastasis. This study aimed to determine tolerability, dose intensity, response, and toxicity of a novel intensified neoadjuvant treatment approach. Materials and Methods: Eligible patients were MRI-staged T3-4NxM0 rectal adenocarcinoma. Treatment consisted of FOLFOX chemotherapy given in weeks 1, 6, and 11 with pelvic radiotherapy (25.2 Gy in 3 weeks in 1.8 Gy/fraction with oxaliplatin and 5-FU continuous infusion) given in weeks 3–5, and weeks 8–10. Surgery was performed 4–6 weeks later. The primary endpoint was tolerability defined as the percentage of patients who were able to complete the planned treatment course. Survival rates were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: Median age of the 40 patients was 61.5 years. Rectal MRI-stage was T3 in 88%. Overall, 95% completed the regimen. All patients received 50.4 Gy. Relative dose intensity (≥75%) was 92% and 98% for oxaliplatin and 5-FU, respectively. High grade toxicities included neutropenia (25% grade 3; 7.5% grade 4) and diarrhoea (10%). Pathologic CR rate was 20%. Median follow-up was 54 months. The 5-year overall survival, freedom from relapse, locoregional control, and freedom from distant metastasis of the cohort was 82%, 72%, 97% and 72%. Conclusions: Delivery of intensified neoadjuvant treatment with interdigitating chemotherapy and radiotherapy is feasible with no increase in acute perioperative complications. A larger prospective study is required to further evaluate the potential survival benefit of this design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Neoadjuvant
  • Preoperative
  • Radiotherapy
  • Rectal

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