Background and purpose: Encouraging results of phase II studies combining chemotherapy with radiotherapy have been published. In this study, the results of a multimodal salvage therapy including radiochemotherapy (RCT) and regional hyperthermia (RHT) in preirradiated patients with recurrent rectal cancer are reported.
Patients and methods: All patients enrolled had received previous pelvic irradiation (median dose 50.4 Gy). The median time interval between prior radiotherapy and the onset of local recurrence was 34 months. The combined treatment consisted of reirradiation with a median dose of 39.6 Gy (30.0-45.0 Gy), delivered in fractions of 1.8 Gy/day. 5-fluorouracil was given as continuous infusion 350 mg/m(2)/day five times weekly, and RHT (BSD-2000 system) was applied twice a week within 1 h after radiotherapy. The primary endpoint was local progression-free survival (LPFS); secondary endpoints were overall survival, symptom control, and toxicity.
Results: 24 patients (median age 59 years) with a previously irradiated locally recurrent adenocarcinoma of the rectum were enrolled. The median LPFS was 15 months (95% confidence interval 12-18 months] with a median follow-up of 27 months (16-37 months). The overall 1-year and 3-year survival rates were 87% and 30%, respectively. Pain was the main symptom in 17 patients. Release of pain was achieved in 12/17 patients (70%). No grade 3 or 4 hematologic or skin toxicity occurred. Grade 3 gastrointestinal acute toxicity was observed in 12.5% of the patients. Paratumoral thermometry revealed a homogeneous distribution of temperatures.
Conclusion: RCT combined with RHT is an efficient salvage therapy showing high efficacy with acceptable toxicity and can be recommended as treatment option for this unfavorable group of preirradiated patients with local recurrence of rectal cancer.