Article Abstract

Neoadjuvant PET and MRI-based intensity modulated radiotherapy leads to less toxicity and improved pathologic response rates in locally advanced rectal cancer

Authors: John M. David, Gillian Gresham, Salma K. Jabbour, Matthew Deek, Shant Thomassian, John M. Robertson, Neil B. Newman, Joseph M. Herman, Arsen Osipov, Peyman Kabolizadeh, Richard Tuli


Background: Neoadjuvant chemoradiation (NeoCRT) is standard of care for the treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Contemporary radiation techniques and pre-treatment imaging may impact toxicities and pathologic response (PR). Herein we compare intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and advanced pre-treatment imaging in the neoadjuvant treatment of LARC and resulting impact on toxicities and pathologic outcomes relative to 3 dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT).
Methods: LARC patients treated at 4 large academic centers in the US from 2007–2016 were reviewed. Patients received 5-FU-based NeoCRT concurrently with IMRT or 3DCRT. PR was recorded as none, partial, or complete. Common terminology for adverse events version 4 was used to grade toxicities. Toxicity rates were compared using Chi-square analysis. Multivariable models were fit adjusting for age, gender, pre-tx CT to identify independent predictors of PR and toxicity.
Results: A total of 128 patients were analyzed: 60.1% male and 39.8% female, median age 57.7 years (range, 31–85 years). Clinical characteristics were similar across RT groups. The outcome of partial and complete PR was similar for IMRT and 3DCRT (48.1%, 23.1% vs. 31.7%, 23.3%), respectively. After adjusting for gender, age, and pre-RT chemotherapy type, IMRT and pretreatment PET and/or MRI imaging was significantly associated with increased odds for complete and partial response (OR =2.95, 95% CI: 1.21–7.25, P=0.018; OR =14.70, 95% CI: 3.69–58.78, P<0.0001). Additionally, IMRT was associated with reduced rates of dehydration, dermatitis, rectal pain, rectal bleeding, and diverting ostomy (P<0.05). Overall rates of grade 2 and higher toxicities were significantly reduced in IMRT vs. 3DCRT after adjusting for confounders (OR =0.27, 95% CI: 0.08–0.87).
Conclusions: NeoCRT IMRT with pretreatment PET and/or MRI for LARC leads to reduced acute toxicities and improved PR compared to 3DCRT. Given the challenges associated with prospective validation of these data, IMRT with pretreatment PET and/or MRI should be considered standard treatment for LARC.