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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and recommended dose of oxaliplatin given synchronously with 5-fluorouracil (5FU), leucovorin (LV) and preoperative pelvic radiation for primary unresectable, locally advanced, rectal cancer. Preoperative pelvic radiotherapy using a three- or four-field technique and megavoltage photons comprised 45 Gy given in 25 fractions, 1.8 Gy per fraction, and delivered with escalating doses of oxaliplatin in combination with low-dose LV and 5FU. Chemotherapy was given synchronously with radiotherapy in weeks 1 and 5. Escalating doses of oxaliplatin (85, 130 and 150 mg m(-2)) were given on days 2 and 30, followed by low-dose LV (20 mg m(-2)) and 5FU (350 mg m(-2)), both given on days 1-5 and 29-33. Surgery was performed 6-10 weeks later. The MTD was determined as the dose causing more than a third of patients to have a dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). Once the MTD was reached, a further 14 patients were treated at the dose level below the MTD. In all, 32 patients received oxaliplatin at the three dose levels, median age 60 years (range 31-79), 24 males and eight females. The MTD was reached at 150 mg m(-2) when four out of six patients experienced DLT. Dose-limiting grade 3 or 4 diarrhoea was reported in two out of six patients at 85 mg m(-2), 5 out of 20 at 130 mg m(-2) and four out of 6 at 150 mg m(-2). Grade 3 neuropathy was reported at 130 mg m(-2) (1 out of 20) and at 150 mg m(-2) (two out of six), and serious haematological toxicity was minimal; one grade 3 anaemia at 150 mg m(-2). In all, 28 out of 32 patients completed all treatments as planned; three had radiotherapy interrupted and three a chemotherapy dose reduction. Four patients did not proceed to surgery due to the presence of metastatic disease (two), unfitness (one) or patient refusal (one). Also, 28 patients underwent surgical resection. Histopathology demonstrated histopathological complete response (pCR) 2 out of 27 (7%), Tmic 3 out of 27 (11%), pCR+Tmic 5 out of 27 (19%), pT0-2 6 out of 27 (22%) and histologically confirmed clear circumferential resection margins in 22 out of 27 (81%). Dose-limiting toxicity with oxaliplatin is 150 mg m(-2) given days 2 and 30 when added to the described 5FU LV and 45 Gy radiation preoperatively. The acceptable toxicity and compliance at 130 mg m(-2) recommend testing this dose in future phase II studies. The tumour downstaging and complete resection rates are encouragingly high for this very locally advanced group.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





993 - 998


Adult, Aged, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Combined Modality Therapy, Disease-Free Survival, Female, Fluorouracil, Humans, Leucovorin, Male, Maximum Tolerated Dose, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Neoplasm Staging, Organoplatinum Compounds, Oxaliplatin, Pelvis, Radiotherapy, High-Energy, Rectal Neoplasms, Treatment Outcome