adiation therapy before surgery increases survival without increasing long-term complications for patients with rectal cancer, according to a 10-year study at Tufts University presented at the recent meeting of the American Radium Society. Resection
adiation therapy before surgery increases survival without increasinglong-term complications for patients with rectal cancer, accordingto a 10-year study at Tufts University presented at the recentmeeting of the American Radium Society. Resection alone was thestandard treatment for these patients when the study began in1972.
The overall 10-year survival rate for patients treated with radiationtherapy plus resection was 74%, said Dr. William P. Reed, Professorof Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine at the WesternCampus in Springfield, Massachusetts. The 10-year survival ratewas 41% for patients who underwent resection alone, he said.
"The patients who had their tumor completely removed (about75% of the 149 patients), had even better survival rates, Dr.Reed told the American Radium Society at its annual meeting inParis. The 10-year survival rate for patients in this subgroupwas 80% for those treated with radiation and surgery, and 45%for those treated with surgery alone, he said.
In addition, patients who had radiation therapy were about a thirdless likely to have their disease return locally, compared topatients treated by surgery alone, according to Dr. Reed.
Physicians have been reluctant to treat these patients with full-doseradiation therapy before surgery because they were concerned thatadditional complications could occur, said Dr. Reed, who is alsoDirector of Surgical Oncology at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.The study found that long-term complications from radiation therapywere minimal,he said.