Intraoperative irradiation after palliative surgery for locally recurrent rectal cancer

Kimitaka Suzuki, Richard M. Devine, Roger R. Dozois, Leonard L. Gunderson, James A. Martenson, Amy L. Weaver, Duane M. Ilstrup, Michael J. O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


Background. In patients with locally recurrent rectal cancer, long‐term disease control and survival is uncommon with single‐modality therapy. This report evaluates results achieved at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) with single‐ or combined‐modality treatment, including intraoperative irradiation. Methods. From 1981 to 1988, 106 patients underwent palliative surgical resections at the Mayo Clinic for locally recurrent rectal cancer. None had evidence of extrapelvic disease, and 42 received intraoperative electron beam irradiation (IORT) as a component of treatment. Gross residual disease remained after maximal surgical resection in 34 of the 42 patients and 61 of the patients who did not receive IORT. The IORT dose was 15‐20 Gy in 39 patients and 10, 25, and 30 Gy in the other 3. External beam irradiation (EBRT) was administered to 41 of the 42 patients (doses ≥ 45 Gy to 38 patients). Results. Kaplan‐Meier survival estimates at 3 and 5 years were analyzed for the 106 patients. Palliative surgical resection alone (12 patients) resulted in a 3‐year survival of 8% and a 5‐year survival of 0%. Statistically significant factors relative to survival based on the univariate analysis of all patients included amount of residual tumor (microscopic vs. gross, P = 0.032) treatment method (P = 0.005), IORT versus no IORT (P = 0.0006), type of symptoms (P = 0.0075), type of fixation (P < 0.0001), and preoperative Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group status (P = 0.03). For patients who received IORT, 3‐year survival with gross residual tumor or presentation with pain was 44% and 43%, respectively. Factors not associated with survival (univariate) included extended versus conventional surgical resection, grade, age, and sex. The 3‐year cumulative probability of distant metastasis was 60% in the patients who received IORT and 54% in those who did not. The 3‐year local relapse rates were 40% versus 93% in patients who received IORT versus those who did not. Conclusions. Although the addition of IORT to external irradiation and maximal surgical resection appears to improve local tumor control and survival in patients who undergo palliative surgical resection for locally recurrent rectal cancer, further gains in treatment are necessary. Considering the high rates of distant metastasis, more routine systemic therapy with 5‐fluorouracil (5‐FU) leucovorin, 5‐FU levamisole, or all three needs to be incorporated into aggressive treatment approaches. In patients with gross residual tumor after maximum surgical resection, local tumor control is inadequate despite treatment combinations including IORT. The evaluation of radiation sensitizers or biologic modifiers during external irradiation and IORT is indicated. Cancer 1995;75:939‐52.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-952
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 1995


  • intraoperative electron beam irradiation
  • palliative surgical resection
  • recurrent rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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