Background: The discussion on the role of adjuvant chemotherapy for rectal cancer patients treated according to current guidelines is still ongoing. A multicentre, randomized phase III trial, PROCTOR-SCRIPT, was conducted to compare adjuvant chemotherapy with observation for rectal cancer patients treated with preoperative (chemo)radiotherapy and total mesorectal excision (TME).
Patients and methods: The PROCTOR-SCRIPT trial recruited patients from 52 hospitals. Patients with histologically proven stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma were randomly assigned (1:1) to observation or adjuvant chemotherapy after preoperative (chemo)radiotherapy and TME. Radiotherapy consisted of 5 × 5 Gy. Chemoradiotherapy consisted of 25 × 1.8-2 Gy combined with 5-FU-based chemotherapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy consisted of 5-FU/LV (PROCTOR) or eight courses capecitabine (SCRIPT). Randomization was based on permuted blocks of six, stratified according to centre, residual tumour, time between last irradiation and surgery, and preoperative treatment. The primary end point was overall survival.
Results: Of 470 enrolled patients, 437 were eligible. The trial closed prematurely because of slow patient accrual. Patients were randomly assigned to observation (n = 221) or adjuvant chemotherapy (n = 216). After a median follow-up of 5.0 years, 5-year overall survival was 79.2% in the observation group and 80.4% in the chemotherapy group [hazard ratio (HR) 0.93, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62-1.39; P = 0.73]. The HR for disease-free survival was 0.80 (95% CI 0.60-1.07; P = 0.13). Five-year cumulative incidence for locoregional recurrences was 7.8% in both groups. Five-year cumulative incidence for distant recurrences was 38.5% and 34.7%, respectively (P = 0.39).
Conclusion: The PROCTOR-SCRIPT trial could not demonstrate a significant benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy with fluoropyrimidine monotherapy after preoperative (chemo)radiotherapy and TME on overall survival, disease-free survival, and recurrence rate. However, this trial did not complete planned accrual.
Registration number: Dutch Colorectal Cancer group, CKTO 2003-16, ISRCTN36266738.
Keywords: adjuvant chemotherapy; preoperative chemoradiotherapy; preoperative radiotherapy; rectal adenocarcinoma; total mesorectal excision.
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