Background and purpose: It has been previously reported that a short FOLFOX-4 induction significantly improves pathologic complete response in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) patients treated with preoperative chemoradiation (CRT). In a larger and updated patient series, we analyzed FOLFOX-4 efficacy in terms of sphincter preservation and long-term outcomes.
Patients and methods: From January 1995 to December 2010, 335 LARC patients were treated with preoperative chemoradiation (4500-5040 cGy). Starting in May 2001, 207 consecutive patients additionally received induction FOLFOX-4. Surgery was performed 6 weeks (range 3-12 weeks) after chemoradiation.
Results: Incidence of total tumor (63 vs. 54 %, p = 0.02) and nodal downstaging (60 vs. 43 %, p = 0.002) was significantly increased by induction FOLFOX-4. In an analysis of tumors located below 5 cm from the anal verge (n = 114, 34 %), sphincter preservation was feasible in 30 % in the FOLFOX-4 versus 13 % in the upfront CRT group (p = 0.04). Median follow-up time for the entire cohort of patients was 72.6 months (range 4-205 months). FOLFOX-4 was not associated with superior locoregional control (HR 0.88, p = 0.78), disease-free survival (HR 0.83, p = 0.55), distant metastases-free survival (HR 0.94, p = 0.81), or cancer-specific survival (HR 0.70, p = 0.15).
Conclusion: Short-intense induction FOLFOX-4 significantly improves downstaging and sphincter preservation in low rectal tumors. Long-term outcomes were not improved in the FOLFOX-4 group of patients.