Introduction. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the interval between surgery and adjuvant treatments regarding the overall survival and recurrence-free survival in patients from a developing country. For stages II and III rectal cancer, international guidelines recommend neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (CRT) regardless of the tumor location. In the developing countries  there is a shortage of radiotherapy centers, specialists, which lead to long waiting lists for radiotherapy. These problems might lead to protocol deviations.

Methods. We conducted a retrospective study on 161 patients with rectal cancer treated with surgery, postoperative CRT and with or without chemotherapy for a total of 6 months, at The Oncology Institute Cluj-Napoca between 2006- 2010. All patients had 5 years of follow-up.

Results. A total of 161 patients were enrolled in this study. The majority of patients were locally advanced stages (89.44%). The well known prognostic factors, such as TNM stage, performance status, CEA serum level, perineural, vascular and lymphatic invasion, and node capsular effraction had a statistically significant influence on overall survival. In 21.12% of patients the first adjuvant treatment was started in the first 4 weeks after surgery. Only 13.04% of patients started the concomitant CRT within the limit of 6 weeks after surgery. Concerning the time between surgery and CRT, we did not observe a statistically significantly difference in OS if the radiotherapy started after the first 6 weeks (p=0.701). The OS rate for locally advanced rectal cancer patients was 69.44%.

Conclusions. In rectal cancer, the importance of the first therapeutic act is crucial. Following international guidelines provides a survival advantage and a better quality of life. In case of adjuvant treatment, it is recommended to start this treatment as soon as the local infrastructure allows it.


rectal neoplasms, adjuvant therapy, chemoradiotherapy, prognosis