Locally advanced primary colorectal cancer: Intraoperative electron and external beam irradiation ± 5-FU

Leonard L. Gunderson, Heidi Nelson, James A. Martenson, Stephen Cha, Michael Haddock, Richard Devine, Jennifer M. Fieck, Bruce Wolff, Roger Dozois, Michael J. O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Purpose: For locally advanced primary colorectal cancer, our institution has combined intraoperative electron irradiation (IOERT) with external beam irradiation (EBRT) ± 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and surgical resection. Disease control and survival were compared with the current IOERT and prior non- IOERT regimens. Methods and Materials: From April 1981 through August 1995, 61 patients received an IOERT dose of 10-20 Gy, usually combined with 45-55 Gy of fractionated EBRT; 56 had minimum follow-up of 18 months. The amount of residual disease remaining at IOERT after exploration and maximal resection in the 56 patients was gross in 16, ≤ microscopic in 39, and unresected in 1. Results: Survival (SR) and disease control were analyzed as a function of potential prognostic factors. Factors that achieved statistical significance for improved overall survival included treatment sequence of preop EBRT + 5- FU (vs. postoperative EBRT + 5-FU, p = 0.003) and ≤ microscopic residual disease after maximal resection (vs. gross residual, p = 0.005). Those that appeared to favorably impact disease-free survival included EBRT + 5-FU (vs. EBRT alone, p = 0.01), ≤ microscopic residual (vs. gross, p = 0.0014), and colon site of primary (vs. rectum, p = 0.009). Failures within an irradiation field have occurred in 4 of 16 patients (25%) who presented with gross residual after partial resection vs. 2 of 39 (5%) with ≤ microscopic residual after gross total resection (p = 0.01). The significant prognostic factors for a decrease in distant metastases were the same as for disease- free SR with respective p-values of 0.013 (EBRT + 5-FU), 0.008 (microscopic residual), and 0.03 (colon primary). The current data suggests a relationship between IOERT dose and incidence of Grade 2 or 3 neuropathy (≤12.5 Gy-1 of 29 or 3%, ≤ 15 Gy-6 of 26 or 23%, p = 0.03). Conclusions: Both overall survival and disease control appear to be improved with the addition of IOERT to standard treatment. More routine use of systemic therapy is indicated as a component of IOERT containing treatment regimens because the incidence of distant metastases was ~50% of patients at risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-614
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997


  • Colorectal irradiation
  • Intraoperative irradiation
  • Locally advanced primary lesions
  • Primary colorectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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