Pathologic Response and Postoperative Complications After Short-course Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy for Patients With Rectal Adenocarcinoma

Santiago Avila, George J. Chang, N. Arvind Dasari, Danyal A. Smani, Prajnan Das, Joeseph M. Herman, Eugene Koay, Albert Koong, Sunil Krishnan, Bruce D. Minsky, Grace L. Smith, Cullen Taniguchi, Melissa W. Taggart, Harmeet Kaur, Emma B. Holliday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The role of neoadjuvant short-course radiation therapy (SCRT) in treating rectal adenocarcinoma is a topic of ongoing debate. Growing interest in total neoadjuvant therapy has spurred discussion on the optimal sequence of preoperative SCRT and chemotherapy. Patients and Methods: All patients receiving SCRT (5 Gy × 5 fractions) were identified. Details about preoperative treatments, radiation toxicities, and postoperative complications were collected. Patients were divided into 2 groups: those who underwent surgery within 14 days of completing SCRT and those with a longer delay. Outcomes compared included extent of pathologic response, margin-negative resection rate, acute radiation toxicities, and postoperative complications. Results: Fifty-seven patients with locally advanced or metastatic rectal cancer received SCRT between 2008 and 2018. Thirty-nine of 57 patients underwent definitive pelvic surgery with total mesorectal excision. There were no significant differences in tumor downstaging, radial margin status, or percent tumor viability between patients with immediate surgery versus delayed surgery. The delay group had higher rates of nodal downstaging (64.7% vs. 18.2%; P = .003). There were no differences in total or grade 3+ gastrointestinal radiation toxicity, postoperative complications, reoperation, readmission, and mortality between the 2 groups. Conclusions: Though not yet common in the United States, SCRT has compared favorably with long course chemoradiation in multiple trials. Moreover, it is associated with greater efficiency and less disruption to chemotherapy. Our data show similar response and toxicity outcomes between the immediate and delay groups, suggesting SCRT is well-tolerated regardless of treatment sequence. Recently completed prospective trials may reveal the optimal preoperative treatment sequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalClinical colorectal cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Radiation toxicity
  • Total mesorectal excision
  • Total neoadjuvant therapy
  • Treatment sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Pathologic Response and Postoperative Complications After Short-course Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy for Patients With Rectal Adenocarcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this