The optimal timing for the interval to surgery after short course preoperative radiotherapy (5 ×5 Gy) in rectal cancer - are we too eager for surgery?
SourceCancer Treatment Reviews, 90, (2020), article 102104
Article / Letter to editor
Display more detailsDisplay less details
Cancer Treatment Reviews
SubjectRadboudumc 14: Tumours of the digestive tract RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
BACKGROUND: The improved overall survival (OS) after short course preoperative radiotherapy (SCPRT) using 5 × 5 Gy reported in the early rectal cancer trials could not be replicated in subsequent phase III trials. This original survival advantage is attributed to poor quality of surgery and the large differential in local recurrence rates, with and without SCPRT. Immuno-modulation during and after SCPRT and its clinical implications have been poorly investigated. We propose an alternative explanation for this survival benefit in terms of immunological mechanisms induced by SCPRT and the timing of surgery, which may validate the concept of consolidation chemotherapy. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We reviewed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and studies of SCPRT from 1985 to 2019. We aimed to examine the precise timing of surgery in days following SCPRT and identify evidence for immune modulation, neo-antigens and memory cell induction by radiation. RESULTS: Considerable variability is reported in randomised trials for median overall treatment time (OTT) from start of SCPRT to surgery (8-14 days). Only three early trials showed a benefit in terms of OS from SCPRT, although the level of benefit in preventing local recurrence was consistent across all trials. Different patterns of immune effects are observed within days after SCPRT depending on the OTT, but human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-1 expression was not upregulated. CONCLUSIONS: SCPRT has a substantial immune-stimulatory potential. The importance of the timing of surgery after SCPRT may have been underestimated. An optimal interval for surgery after 5 × 5 Gy may lead to better outcomes, which is possibly exploited in total neoadjuvant therapy schedules using consolidation chemotherapy. Individual patient meta-analyses from appropriate SCPRT trials examining outcomes for each day and prospective trials are needed to clarify the validity of this hypothesis. The interaction of SCPRT with tumour adaptive immunology, in particular the kinetics and timing, should be examined further.
Upload full text