No benefit of adjuvant Fluorouracil Leucovorin chemotherapy after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced cancer of the rectum (LARC): Long term results of a randomized trial (I-CNR-RT)

Radiother Oncol. 2014 Nov;113(2):223-9. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2014.10.006. Epub 2014 Nov 14.


Background and purpose: To evaluate the effect of adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (NACT-RT). The study was funded by the Italian National Research Council (CNR).

Methods: From September 1992 to January 2001, 655 patients with LARC (clinically T3-4, any N) treated with NACT-RT and surgery, were randomized in two arms: follow-up (Arm A) or 6 cycles of ACT with 5 fluorouracil (5FU)-Folinic Acid (Arm B). NACT-RT consisted of 45Gy/28/ff concurrent with 5FU (350mg/sqm) and Folinic Acid (20mg/sqm) on days 1-5 and 29-33; surgery was performed after 4-6weeks. Median follow up was 63·7months. Primary end point was overall survival (OS).

Results: 634/655 patients were evaluable (Arm A 310, Arm B 324); 92·5% of Arm A and 91% of Arm B patients received the preoperative treatment as in the protocol; 294 patients of Arm A (94·8%) and 296 of Arm B (91·3%) underwent a radical resection; complete pathologic response and overall downstaging rates did not show any significant difference in the two arms. 83/297 (28%) patients in Arm B, never started ACT. Five year OS and DFS did not show any significant difference in the two treatment arms. Distant metastases occurred in 62 patients (21%) in Arm A and in 58 (19·6%) in Arm B.

Conclusions: In patients with LARC treated with NACT-RT, the addition of ACT did not improve 5year OS and DFS and had no impact on the distant metastasis rate.

Keywords: Adjuvant chemotherapy; Preoperative radiochemotherapy; Rectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Chemoradiotherapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / adverse effects
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil