Rectal cancer: MR imaging before neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy for prediction of tumor-free circumferential resection margins and long-term survival

Radiology. 2007 Jun;243(3):744-51. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2433060421. Epub 2007 Apr 26.


Purpose: To retrospectively evaluate the prognostic importance of involvement of the circumferential resection margin predicted by using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging before neoadjuvant treatment in patients with rectal cancer.

Materials and methods: The local institutional review board approved the retrospective analysis of the data and waived informed consent. Sixty-eight patients (52 men, 16 women; mean age +/- standard deviation, 58.9 years +/- 9.4) with cT3 NX M0 tumors were included. T2-weighted MR images were analyzed in consensus by two radiologists with respect to the shortest distance between the outermost parts of the tumor to the adjacent mesorectal fascia (as the potential circumferential resection margin in total mesorectal excision). Histopathologic and follow-up data were available for all patients (mean follow-up time, 54 months; range, 31-77 months). To compare local recurrence and survival rates, the population was divided into three groups categorized according to the minimum distance of the tumor to the mesorectal fascia (group 1, <or=1 mm; group 2, >1 to 5 mm; group 3, >5 mm). Univariate Cox and multivariate proportional hazard regression models were used to test the prognostic importance of clinical, histopathologic regression, and histopathologic tumor parameters.

Results: MR imaging led to accurate prediction of a histologically involved circumferential resection margin (sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 88%). The rates for local recurrence (group 1, 33%; group 2, 5%; group 3, 6%; P<.02) and 5-year overall survival (group 1, 39%; group 2, 70%; group 3, 90%; P<.001) differed significantly among the predefined groups. The distance to the mesorectal fascia was an independent prognostic parameter in multivariate analysis (P<.001), and histopathologic response to treatment provided no additional information.

Conclusion: Prediction of the tumor-free circumferential resection margin assessed with MR imaging before initiation of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy proved to be a prognostic factor in rectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate