In a nutshell
This study compared the survival outcomes of patients with rectal cancer who underwent short- or long-course radiation therapy (RT). Researchers suggested that long-course RT was associated with greater tumor response and survival.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. The standard treatment before surgery for stages 2 and 3 rectal cancer is chemotherapy combined with short- or long-course radiation therapy.
Prior studies showed how long-course RT is associated with decreased local recurrence (when the cancer comes back) when compared to chemotherapy and RT after surgery. Other studies showed that short-course RT before surgery is associated with lower recurrence rates at 2 years, compared to surgery alone.
However, it is still not clear how short- and long-course RT affects the survival of patients with rectal cancer.
Methods & findings
This study included information about 564 patients with rectal cancer. They underwent either short-course RT (188) and long-course RT (376). Survival outcomes were measured.
Patients who underwent long-course RT were more likely to have tumor shrinkage when compared to the short-course RT group. Patients in the long-course RT group also had a shorter stay at the hospital (6 days) when compared to the short-course RT (8 days). The 90-day death rate in the long-course RT was also lower (1%) than in the short-course group (10%).
Patients in the long-course RT had a 50% improvement in the risk of death compared to those in the short-course group.
The bottom line
This study concluded that patients with rectal cancer who undergo long-course RT are likely to have a better survival when compared to the ones who have short-course RT before surgery.
The fine print
Side effects, additional medical conditions, and quality of life were not assessed in this study. These are important factors in survival outcomes.
Published By :
Jan 13, 2019
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