Purpose: To evaluate the safety of delivering pre-operative regional hyperthermia (HT) plus an intensified chemo-radiotherapy (CRT) regimen in patients suffering from locally advanced rectal cancer.
Methods: Between June 2000 and April 2006, 76 patients with locally advanced (cT3-4 N0/+) rectal adenocarcinoma were treated with HT plus CRT. HT was given once a week, to a total of five treatments, 1 to 4 h after radiotherapy (50 Gy with 2-Gy fractions for 5 weeks, plus a 10-Gy boost on the tumour bed, with the same fractionation schedule). Chemotherapy consisted in 5FU 200 mg/m(2) continuous infusion throughout the 6 weeks of irradiation and OXA 45 mg/m(2) in a weekly bolus. Surgery followed 4 to 6 weeks after the completion of HT plus CRT.
Results: HT plus CRT was generally well tolerated. At pathologic examination, there was a pathologic complete response (pCR) (ypT0 ypN0) in 18 out of 76 patients (23.6%), a partial response (PR) in 34/76 ones (44.7%) and a stable disease (SD) in 20/76 (26.3%) ones; 4/76 patients (5.2%) had a progression disease (PD) (distant metastases) at the time of surgery. Good predictors of a longer disease-free survival (DFS) were in order ypN status (log-rank test: p = 0.0008), ypT status (p = 0.002) and pCR (p = 0.03).
Conclusion: Preoperative CRT combined with regional HT yielded acceptable toxicity. The rate of pCR was encouraging, although further studies are needed to prove the long-term efficacy of adding HT to CRT.