Long-term Outcome of an Organ Preservation Program After Neoadjuvant Treatment for Rectal Cancer

Milou H. Martens, Monique Maas, Luc A. Heijnen, Doenja M. J. Lambregts, Jeroen W. A. Leijtens, Laurents P. S. Stassen, Stephanie O. Breukink, Christiaan Hoff, Eric J. Belgers, Jarno Melenhorst, Robertus Jansen, Johannes Buijsen, Ton G. M. Hoofwijk, Regina G. H. Beets-Tan, Geerard L. Beets*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

182 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Background: The aim of this study was to establish the oncological and functional results of organ preservation with a watch-and-wait approach (W&W) and selective transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) in patients with a clinical complete or near-complete response (cCR) after neoadjuvant chemoradiation for rectal cancer. Methods: Between 2004 and 2014, organ preservation was offered if response assessment with digital rectal examination, endoscopy, and MRI showed (near) cCR. Watch-and-wait was offered for cCR, and two options were offered for near cCR: TEM or reassessment after three months. Follow-up included endoscopy and MRIs every three months during the first year, and every six months thereafter. Long-term outcome was assessed with Kaplan-Meier curves. Functional outcome was assessed with colostomy-free survival and Vaizey incontinence score (0 = perfect continence, 24 = totally incontinent). Results: One hundred patients were included, with median follow-up of 41.1 months. Sixty-one had cCR at initial response assessment. Thirty-nine had near cCR, of whom 24 developed cCR at the second assessment and 15 patients underwent TEM (9 ypT0, 1 ypT1, 5 ypT2). Fifteen patients developed a local regrowth (12 luminal, 3 nodal), all salvageable and within 25 months. Five patients developed metastases, and five patients died. Three-year overall survival was 96.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 89.9% to 98.9%), distant metastasis-free survival was 96.8% (95% CI = 90.4% to 99.0%), local regrowth-free survival was 84.6% (95% CI = 75.8% to 90.5%), and disease-free survival was 80.6% (95% CI = 70.9% to 87.4%). Colostomy-free survival was 94.8% (95% CI = 88.0% to 97.8%), with a good continence after watch-and-wait (Vaizey = 3.4, SD = 3.9) and moderate after TEM (Vaizey = 9.7, SD = 5.1). Conclusions: Organ preservation appears oncologically safe for selected rectal cancer patients with a cCR or near cCR after neoadjuvant chemoradiation when applying strict selection criteria and frequent follow-up, including endoscopy and MRI. The low colostomy rate and the good long-term functional outcome warrant discussing this option with the patient as an alternative to major surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdjw171
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Volume108
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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