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Original Investigation
April 19, 2018

Association of Adjuvant Chemotherapy With Overall Survival in Patients With Rectal Cancer and Pathologic Complete Response Following Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy and Resection

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 2Department of Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System, Dallas
  • 3Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
JAMA Oncol. Published online April 19, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0231
Key Points

Question  Does adjuvant chemotherapy provide a survival benefit in patients with rectal cancer with pathologic complete response following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and resection?

Findings  In this propensity score matching analysis of a cohort from a large national data set, adjuvant chemotherapy was associated with significantly improved 5-year survival in patients with rectal cancer who achieved a complete pathologic response following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and resection compared with those who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Patients with clinical stage T3/T4 and node-positive disease benefited most from adjuvant chemotherapy.

Meaning  Adjuvant chemotherapy was associated with improved overall survival in patients with a complete pathologic response after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced rectal cancer following surgery.

Abstract

Importance  Adjuvant chemotherapy (AC) in patients with rectal cancer with pathologic complete response following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) and resection is recommended by treatment guidelines. However, its role in this setting is equivocal because data supporting benefits are lacking.

Objective  To compare the overall survival (OS) between AC and postoperative observation (OB) in patients with rectal cancer with pathologic complete response following nCRT and resection.

Design, Setting, and Participants  We identified a cohort of patients with rectal cancer and a complete pathological response (ypT0N0) after nCRT in the National Cancer Database between 2006 and 2012. Patients who received AC were compared with OB patients by propensity score matching. Overall survival was compared using the stratified log-rank test and stratified Cox regression model. The outcomes after AC vs OB were also evaluated in patient subgroups. The data analysis was completed in June 2017.

Exposures  Adjuvant chemotherapy and OB.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Overall survival.

Results  We identified 2764 patients (mean [SD] age, 60.0 [12.3] years; 40% female) with clinical stage II or III resected adenocarcinoma of the rectum who had received nCRT and were complete responders (ypT0N0M0). Of this cohort, 741 patients in the AC group were matched by propensity score to 741 patients who underwent OB. The AC cohort had better OS compared with the OB cohort (hazard ratio, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.32-0.79). The 1-, 3-, and 5-year OS rates were 99.7%, 97.1%, and 94.7% for the AC group and 99.2%, 93.6%, and 88.4% for the OB group (P = .005). In subgroup analysis, patients with clinical stage T3/T4 and node-positive disease benefited most from AC (hazard ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.25-0.91).

Conclusions and Relevance  Adjuvant chemotherapy was associated with improved OS in patients with pathologic complete response after nCRT for resected locally advanced rectal cancer. This study supports the use of AC in this setting where there is currently paucity of data.

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