Recent results in cancer research. Fortschritte der Krebsforschung. Progrès dans les recherches sur le cancer vol:203 pages:189-201
With the implementation of total mesorectal excision surgery and neoadjuvant (chemo) radiotherapy, the outcome of rectal cancer patients has improved and a substantial proportion of them have become long-term survivors. These advances come at the expense of radiation- and chemotherapy-related toxicity which remains an underestimated problem. Radiation-induced early toxicity in rectal cancer treatment mainly includes diarrhea, cystitis, and perineal dermatitis, while bowel dysfunction, fecal incontinence, bleeding, and perforation, genitourinary dysfunction, and pelvic fractures constitute the majority of late toxicity. It is now generally accepted that short-course radiotherapy (SCRT) and immediate surgery is associated with less early toxicity compared to conventionally fractionated chemoradiotherapy with delayed surgery. There are no significant differences in late toxicity between both treatment regimens. While there is hardly an increase in early toxicity after preoperative SCRT with immediate surgery, late toxicity is substantial compared to surgery alone. Early toxicity is more frequent when a longer interval between SCRT and surgery is used and is comparable to the toxicity observed with conventionally fractionated radiotherapy except that it occurs after the end of the radiotherapy. So far, randomized phase III trials failed to demonstrate a substantial gain in tumoural response when oxaliplatin or molecular agents are added to the multimodality treatment. Moreover, the addition of these drugs increases toxicity and remains therefore experimental.