Blood biomarkers are helpful in the prediction of response to chemoradiation in rectal cancer: a prospective, hypothesis driven study on patients with locally advanced rectal cancer

J. Buijsen*, R.G. van Stiphout, P.P. Menheere, G. Lammering, P. Lambin

*Corresponding author for this work

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PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: Chemoradiation (CRT) has been shown to lead to downsizing of an important portion of rectal cancers. In order to tailor treatment at an earlier stage during treatment, predictive models are being developed. Adding blood biomarkers may be attractive for prediction, as they can be collected very easily and determined with excellent reproducibility in clinical practice. The hypothesis of this study was that blood biomarkers related to tumor load, hypoxia and inflammation can help to predict response to CRT in rectal cancer. MATERIAL/METHODS: 295 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer who were planned to undergo CRT were prospectively entered into a biobank protocol (NCT01067872). Blood samples were drawn before start of CRT. Nine biomarkers were selected, based on a previously defined hypothesis, and measured in a standardized way by a certified lab: CEA, CA19-9, LDH, CRP, IL-6, IL-8, CA IX, osteopontin and 25-OH-vitamin D. Outcome was analyzed in two ways: pCR vs. non-pCR and responders (defined as ypT0-2N0) vs. non-responders (all other ypTN stages). RESULTS: 276 patients could be analyzed. 20.7% developed a pCR and 47.1% were classified as responders. In univariate analysis CEA (p=0.001) and osteopontin (p=0.012) were significant predictors for pCR. Taking response as outcome CEA (p<0.001), IL-8 (p<0.001) and osteopontin (p=0.004) were significant predictors. In multivariate analysis CEA was the strongest predictor for pCR (OR 0.92, p=0.019) and CEA and IL-8 predicted for response (OR 0.97, p=0.029 and OR 0.94, p=0.036). The model based on biomarkers only had an AUC of 0.65 for pCR and 0.68 for response; the strongest model included clinical data, PET-data and biomarkers and had an AUC of 0.81 for pCR and 0.78 for response. CONCLUSION: CEA and IL-8 were identified as predictive biomarkers for tumor response and PCR after CRT in rectal cancer. Incorporation of these blood biomarkers leads to an additional accuracy of earlier developed prediction models using clinical variables and PET-information. The new model could help to an early adaptation of treatment in rectal cancer patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-242
Number of pages6
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Rectal cancer
  • Chemoradiation
  • Blood biomarkers
  • Response prediction

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