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Radiation Therapy Before Surgery Compared With Chemotherapy Plus Radiation After Surgery in Treating Patients With Rectal Cancer That Can Be Surgically Removed

This study has been completed.
NCIC Clinical Trials Group
Information provided by:
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Identifier:
First received: November 1, 1999
Last updated: December 3, 2013
Last verified: March 2007

RATIONALE: Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to damage tumor cells. Drugs used in chemotherapy use different ways to stop tumor cells from dividing so they stop growing or die. It is not yet known whether giving radiation therapy before surgery is more effective than giving chemotherapy plus radiation therapy after surgery in treating patients with rectal cancer.

PURPOSE: This randomized phase III trial is studying radiation therapy given before surgery to see how well it works compared to chemotherapy and radiation therapy given after surgery in treating patients with rectal cancer that can be surgically removed.

Condition Intervention Phase
Colorectal Cancer
Drug: fluorouracil
Drug: leucovorin calcium
Procedure: adjuvant therapy
Procedure: conventional surgery
Procedure: neoadjuvant therapy
Radiation: radiation therapy
Phase 3

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Randomised Trial Comparing Pre-Operative Radiotherapy and Selective Post-Operative Chemoradiotherapy in Rectal Cancer

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Local recurrence by biopsy, imaging, or imaging and carcinoembryonic antigen result

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Local recurrence-free survival
  • Overall survival
  • Time to appearance of distant metastases
  • Disease-free survival
  • Morbidity
  • Quality of life
  • Economic implications

Estimated Enrollment: 1800
Study Start Date: January 1998
Study Completion Date: June 2010
Detailed Description:


  • Compare local recurrence free rates and quality of life in patients with operable rectal cancer receiving preoperative radiotherapy versus patients receiving selective postoperative chemoradiotherapy.
  • Determine local recurrence free survival, overall survival, time to appearance of distant metastases, disease free survival and morbidity in these patients.

OUTLINE: This is a randomized, multicenter study. Patients are stratified by a number of factors including surgeon.

Patients are randomized to receive preoperative radiotherapy (arm I) or postoperative chemoradiotherapy (arm II).

  • Arm I: Patients receive radiotherapy in 5 fractions over 1 week prior to surgery. Patients undergo surgery within 7 days of the last fraction of radiotherapy.
  • Arm II: Patients receive chemoradiotherapy 4-12 weeks after surgery (if circumferential resection margins are histologically involved by tumor). Radiotherapy is administered in 25 fractions over 5 weeks (5 days per week). During radiotherapy, patients either receive fluorouracil (5-FU) continuous infusion, 5-FU bolus IV and leucovorin calcium IV weekly, or a 5-day bolus schedule of 5-FU and leucovorin calcium.

Patients may then receive adjuvant chemotherapy as per local policy.

Quality of life assessments are made every 3 months for 1 year and then every 6 months for the next 2 years.

Patients are followed every 3 months for 1 year, every 6 months for 2 years, and then annually thereafter.

PROJECTED ACCRUAL: Approximately 1800 patients will be accrued into this study.


Ages Eligible for Study:   up to 75 Years   (Child, Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


  • Histologically confirmed adenocarcinoma of the rectum (defined as lower edge of tumor within 15 cm of anal verge)
  • Tumor considered potentially operable
  • No evidence of metastases indicated by liver ultrasound or CT scan; chest x-ray; or renal, liver, and bone profiles



  • 75 and under

Performance status:

  • Not specified

Life expectancy:

  • Not specified


  • Not specified


  • Not specified


  • Not specified


  • No uncontrolled heart failure or angina


  • No other concurrent uncontrolled medical illness (e.g., infection)
  • No other prior or concurrent malignancy likely to interfere with the protocol treatments or comparisons


Biologic therapy

  • Not specified


  • Not specified

Endocrine therapy

  • Not specified


  • Not specified


  • Not specified
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00003422

Canada, Alberta
Tom Baker Cancer Centre - Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 4N2
Canada, Manitoba
CancerCare Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3E 0V9
Canada, New Brunswick
Saint John Regional Hospital
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, E2L 4L2
Canada, Ontario
Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario at Kingston General Hospital
Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 5P9
Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre - General Campus
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 1C4
St. Catharines General Hospital at Niagara Health System
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2R 5K3
Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4N 3M5
Canada, Quebec
Hopital Charles Lemoyne
Greenfield Park, Quebec, Canada, J4V 2H1
United Kingdom
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School
Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom, DD1 9SY
Sponsors and Collaborators
Medical Research Council
NCIC Clinical Trials Group
Study Chair: R. Steele Ninewells Hospital
Study Chair: Jean Couture, MD Hopital Charles Lemoyne
  More Information

Quirke P, Sebag-Montefiore D, Steele R, et al.: Local recurrence after rectal cancer resection is strongly related to the plane of surgical dissection and is further reduced by pre-operative short course radiotherapy. Preliminary results of the Medical Research Council (MRC) CR07 trial. [Abstract] J Clin Oncol 24 (Suppl 18): A-3512, 2006.
Sebag-Montefiore D, Steele R, Quirke P, et al.: Routine short course pre-op radiotherapy or selective post-op chemoradiotherapy for resectable rectal cancer? Preliminary results of the MRC CR07 randomised trial. [Abstract] J Clin Oncol 24 (Suppl 18): A-3511, 2006.
Sebag-Montefiore D: An update report on the MRC CR07 trial. [Abstract] Br J Cancer 85 (suppl 1): A-9.3, 28, 2001. Identifier: NCT00003422     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: CDR0000066442
Study First Received: November 1, 1999
Last Updated: December 3, 2013

Keywords provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):
stage I rectal cancer
stage II rectal cancer
stage III rectal cancer
adenocarcinoma of the rectum

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Colorectal Neoplasms
Rectal Neoplasms
Intestinal Neoplasms
Gastrointestinal Neoplasms
Digestive System Neoplasms
Neoplasms by Site
Digestive System Diseases
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Colonic Diseases
Intestinal Diseases
Rectal Diseases
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
Antineoplastic Agents
Immunosuppressive Agents
Immunologic Factors
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Protective Agents processed this record on April 24, 2017