Neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (nCRT) is the standard treatment modality in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Since response to radiotherapy (RT) is dose dependent in rectal cancer, dose escalation may lead to higher complete response rates. The possibility to predict patients who will achieve complete response (CR) is fundamental. Recently, an early tumour regression index (ERI) was introduced to predict pathological CR (pCR) after nCRT in LARC patients.
The primary endpoints will be the increase of CR rate and the evaluation of feasibility of delta radiomics-based predictive MRI guided Radiotherapy (MRgRT) model.
Patients affected by LARC cT2-3, N0-2 or cT4 for anal sphincter involvement N0-2a, M0 without high risk features will be enrolled in the trial. Neoadjuvant CRT will be administered using MRgRT. The initial RT treatment will consist in delivering 55 Gy in 25 fractions on Gross Tumor Volume (GTV) plus the corresponding mesorectum and 45 Gy in 25 fractions on the drainage nodes. Chemotherapy with 5-fluoracil (5-FU) or oral capecitabine will be administered continuously.
A 0.35 Tesla MRI will be acquired at simulation and every day during MRgRT. At fraction 10, ERI will be calculated: if ERI will be inferior than 13.1, the patient will continue the original treatment; if ERI will be higher than 13.1 the treatment plan will be reoptimized, intensifying the dose to the residual tumor at the 11th fraction to reach 60.1 Gy.
At the end of nCRT instrumental examinations are to be performed in order to restage patients. In case of stable disease or progression, the patient will undergo surgery. In case of major or complete clinical response, conservative approaches may be chosen. Patients will be followed up to evaluate toxicity and quality of life.
The number of cases to be enrolled will be 63: all the patients will be treated at Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS in Rome.
This clinical trial investigates the impact of RT dose escalation in poor responder LARC patients identified using ERI, with the aim of increasing the probability of CR and consequently an organ preservation benefit in this group of patients.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04815694 (25/03/2021).