Background: Neoadjuvant therapy improves survival of patients with clinical stage II and III rectal cancer in clinical trials. In this study, we investigated the administration of neoadjuvant radiotherapy (neo-RT) and neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (neo-CRT) and its association with survival in resected patients in 2 European countries (The Netherlands and Sweden) and at 3 specialist centers.
Materials and methods: Administration of neoadjuvant treatment (all registries) and overall survival after surgery in The Netherlands and Sweden were assessed. Hazard ratios (HRs) were obtained using Cox regression adjusted for potential confounders.
Results: A total of 16,095 rectal cancer patients with clinical stage II and III were eligible for analyses. Large variations in administration of neo-RT and neo-CRT were observed. Elderly patients less often received neo-RT and neo-CRT. Patients with stage III disease received neo-CRT more frequently than neo-RT. Administration of neo-RT versus surgery without neoadjuvant treatment was significantly associated with improved survival in The Netherlands (HR, 0.62; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53-0.73) as well as in Sweden (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.69-0.90). Administration of neo-CRT was associated with enhanced survival in The Netherlands (HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.50-0.78) but not in Sweden (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.80-1.18). The mortality of patients treated with neo-CRT compared with neo-RT showed inconsistent results in population-based centers.
Conclusions: Our results support an association of neo-RT with enhanced survival among stage II and III rectal cancer patients. Comparing neo-CRT with neo-RT, larger variations and inconsistent results with respect to survival were observed across centers.
Keywords: Long-term outcomes; Neoadjuvant therapy; Rectal cancer; Survival; Variations.
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