Local recurrences in western low rectal cancer patients treated with or without lateral lymph node dissection after neoadjuvant (chemo)radiotherapy: An international multi-centre comparative study

Hidde M. Kroon*, Songphol Malakorn, Nagendra N. Dudi-Venkata, Sergei Bedrikovetski, Jianliang Liu, Tim Kenyon-Smith, Brian K. Bednarski, Atsushi Ogura, Cornelis J. H. van de Velde, Harm J. T. Rutten, Geerard L. Beets, Michelle L. Thomas, Miranda Kusters, George J. Chang, Tarik Sammour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: In the West, low rectal cancer patients with abnormal lateral lymph nodes (LLNs) are commonly treated with neoadjuvant (chemo)radiotherapy (nCRT) followed by total mesorectal excision (TME). Additionally, some perform a lateral lymph node dissection (LLND). To date, no comparative data (nCRT vs. nCRT + LLND) are available in Western patients. Methods: An international multi-centre cohort study was conducted at six centres from the Netherlands, US and Australia. Patients with low rectal cancers from the Netherlands and Australia with abnormal LLNs (≥5 mm short-axis in the obturator, internal iliac, external iliac and/or common iliac basin) who underwent nCRT and TME (LLND-group) were compared to similarly staged patients from the US who underwent a LLND in addition to nCRT and TME (LLND + group). Results: LLND + patients (n = 44) were younger with higher ASA-classifications and ypN-stages compared to LLND-patients (n = 115). LLND + patients had larger median LLNs short-axes and received more adjuvant chemotherapy (100 vs. 30%; p < 0.0001). Between groups, the local recurrence rate (LRR) was 3% for LLND + vs. 11% for LLND- (p = 0.13). Disease-free survival (DFS, p = 0.94) and overall survival (OS, p = 0.42) were similar. On multivariable analysis, LLND was an independent significant factor for local recurrences (p = 0.01). Sub-analysis of patients who underwent long-course nCRT and had adjuvant chemotherapy (LLND-n = 30, LLND + n = 44) demonstrated a lower LRR for LLND + patients (3% vs. 16% for LLND-; p = 0.04). DFS (p = 0.10) and OS (p = 0.11) were similar between groups. Conclusion: A LLND in addition to nCRT may improve loco-regional control in Western patients with low rectal cancer and abnormal LLNs. Larger studies in Western patients are required to evaluate its contribution.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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