Neoadjuvant FOLFOXIRI prior to chemoradiotherapy for high-risk ("ugly") locally advanced rectal cancer: study protocol of a single-arm, multicentre, open-label, phase II trial (MEND-IT)

K van den Berg, D P Schaap, E L K Voogt, T E Buffart, H M W Verheul, J W B de Groot, C Verhoef, J Melenhorst, J M L Roodhart, J H W de Wilt, H L van Westreenen, A G J Aalbers, M van 't Veer, C A M Marijnen, J Vincent, L H J Simkens, N A J B Peters, M Berbée, I M Werter, P SnaebjornssonH M U Peulen, I G van Lijnschoten, M J Roef, G A P Nieuwenhuijzen, J G Bloemen, J M W E Willems, G J M Creemers, J Nederend, H J T Rutten, J W A Burger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The presence of mesorectal fascia (MRF) invasion, grade 4 extramural venous invasion (EMVI), tumour deposits (TD) or extensive or bilateral extramesorectal (lateral) lymph nodes (LLN) on MRI has been suggested to identify patients with indisputable, extensive locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC), at high risk of treatment failure. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether or not intensified chemotherapy prior to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy improves the complete response (CR) rate in these patients.

METHODS: This multicentre, single-arm, open-label, phase II trial will include 128 patients with non-metastatic high-risk LARC (hr-LARC), fit for triplet chemotherapy. To ensure a study population with indisputable, unfavourable prognostic characteristics, hr-LARC is defined as LARC with on baseline MRI at least one of the following characteristics; MRF invasion, EMVI grade 4, enlarged bilateral or extensive LLN at high risk of an incomplete resection, or TD. Exclusion criteria are the presence of a homozygous DPD deficiency, distant metastases, any chemotherapy within the past 6 months, previous radiotherapy within the pelvic area precluding standard chemoradiotherapy, and any contraindication for the planned treatment. All patients will be planned for six two-weekly cycles of FOLFOXIRI (5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, oxaliplatin and irinotecan) prior to chemoradiotherapy (25 × 2 Gy or 28 × 1.8 Gy with concomitant capecitabine). A resection will be performed following radiological confirmation of resectable disease after the completion of chemoradiotherapy. A watch and wait strategy is allowed in case of a clinical complete response. The primary endpoint is the CR rate, described as a pathological CR or a sustained clinical CR one year after chemoradiotherapy. The main secondary objectives are long-term oncological outcomes, radiological and pathological response, the number of resections with clear margins, treatment-related toxicity, perioperative complications, health-related costs, and quality of life.

DISCUSSION: This trial protocol describes the MEND-IT study. The MEND-IT study aims to evaluate the CR rate after intensified chemotherapy prior to concomitant chemoradiotherapy in a homogeneous group of patients with locally advanced rectal cancer and indisputably unfavourable characteristics, defined as hr-LARC, in order to improve their prognosis.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT04838496 , registered on 02-04-2021 Netherlands Trial Register: NL9790.

PROTOCOL VERSION: Version 3 dd 11-4-2022.

Original languageEnglish
Article number957
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022


  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols/adverse effects
  • Camptothecin/analogs & derivatives
  • Chemoradiotherapy/methods
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Fluorouracil/therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy/methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary/pathology
  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • Quality of Life
  • Rectal Neoplasms/pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


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