In view of poor local control rates obtained with standard treatment, intraoperative radiation (IORT) using electrons was combined with external beam irradiation and surgical resection, with or without 5-fluorouracil (5FU), in 51 patients with locally advanced colorectal cancer (recurrent, 36 patients; primary, 15 patients). Patients received 4500-5500 cGy (rad) of fractionated, multiple field external beam irradiation and an IORT dose of 1000-2000 cGy. Thirty of 51 patients (59%) are alive and 22 patients (43%) are free of disease. In 44 patients at risk ≥1 year, local progression within the IORT field has occurred in 1 of 44 (2%) and within the external beam field in 8 of 44 (18%). All local failures have occurred in patients with recurrence or with gross residual after partial resection, and the risk was less in patients who received 5FU during external irradiation (1 of 11, 9% vs. 6 of 31, 19%). The incidence of distant metastases is high in patients with recurrence, but subsequent peritoneal failures are infrequent. Acute and chronic tolerance have been acceptable, but peripheral nerve appears to be a dose-limiting structure. Randomized trials are needed to determine whether potential gains with IORT are real.
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