Purpose: In rectal cancer, the presence of extramesorectal/lateral pelvic lymph node (LPN) is associated with higher risk of locoregional and distant recurrences. LPNs are not typically resected during a standard total mesorectal excision (TME) procedure, and the optimal management for these patients is controversial. We assessed the safety and efficacy of adding a radiation therapy boost to clinically positive LPN during neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy for rectal cancer. Methods and Materials: We analyzed nonmetastatic, lymph node positive rectal adenocarcinoma patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy followed by TME between May 2011 and February 2018. Patients without LPN involvement received external beam radiation therapy (45 Gy in 25 fractions) to the primary tumor and regional draining lymph node basins followed by a boost (5.4 Gy in 3 fractions) to gross disease. Patients with clinically positive LPN that would not be removed during TME received an additional boost (up to a total dose between 54.0 and 59.4 Gy) to the involved LPNs. We compared locoregional control, overall survival, progression-free survival, and treatment-related toxicity between these 2 groups. Results: Fifty-three patients were included in this analysis with median follow-up of 30.6 months for the LPN– group (n = 41) and 19.9 months for the LPN+ group (n = 12). There was no difference in 3-year overall survival (90.04% vs 83.33%, P = .890) and progression-free survival (80.12% vs 80.21%, P = .529) between the 2 groups. We did not observe any LPN recurrences. There were no differences in rates of acute grade 3+ or chronic toxicities. Conclusions: Despite the well-documented negative prognostic effect of LPN metastasis, we observed promising outcomes for LPN+ patients treated with an additional radiation boost. Our results suggest that radiation therapy boost to clinically involved, unresected LPN is an effective treatment approach with limited toxicity. Additional studies are needed to optimize treatment strategies for this unique patient subset.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging