Background: Preoperative radiation treatment with concomitant intravenous infusion of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is known to be effective in shrinking and downstaging of tumors. However, chemotherapy has often been limited by its toxicity and poor patient compliance. Oral 5-FU is known to have several advantages over conventional intravenous 5-FU infusion such as lower toxicity and higher quality of life without compromising the efficacy of the treatment. The aim of this study was to compare intravenous 5-FU with oral doxifluridine with respect to tumor response, toxicity and quality of life. Methods: Twenty-eight patients with rectal cancer, staged as over T3N1 or T4 by transrectal ultrasonography between July 1997 and December 1998, were included in this study. Intravenous 5-FU (450 mg/m2) and leucovorin (20 mg/m2) were given for five consecutive days during the first and fifth weeks of radiation therapy (50.4 Gy) (n = 14). Oral doxifluridine (700 mg/m2/day) and leucovorin (20 mg/m2) were given daily during radiation treatment (n = 14). Quality of life was scored according to 22 activity items (good, >77; fair, >58; poor, <57). Surgical resection was performed 4 weeks after completion of concurrent chemoradiation treatment. Tumor response was classified into CR (complete remission), PR (partial response; 50% diminution of tumor volume or downstaging) and NR (no response). Results: Tumor response was CR 3/14 (21.4%), PR 7/14 (50%) and NR 4/14 (28.6%) in the IV arm versus CR 2/14 (14.2%), PR 6/14 (42.9%) and NR 6/14 (42.9%) in the Oral arm (p = 0.16, 0.23, 0.24), respectively. The quality of life was poor (36.4% versus 33.3%), fair and good (63.6% versus 66.7%) between the IV arm and Oral arm, respectively. Gastrointestinal toxicity was 2/14 (14.3%) in the IV arm versus 5/14 (35.7%) in the Oral arm, respectively. Stomatitis was only observed in the IV arm (1/14, 7.1%). Hematological toxicity was 3/14 (21.4%) in the IV arm versus 4/14 (28.5%) in the Oral arm, respectively. Systemic recurrence during the follow-up periods were 1/14 (7.1%) in the IV arm and 2/14 (14.3%) in the Oral arm, respectively (p = 0.307). One local recurrence was observed in the Oral arm. Conclusion: Even though the results were not entirely reliable owing to the small number of patients enrolled, oral doxifluridine-based chemotherapy as preoperative chemoradiation for advanced rectal cancer did not show any significant advantages over intravenous infusion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cancer Research