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1.  A phase II trial of neoadjuvant IMRT-based chemoradiotherapy followed by one cycle of capecitabine for stage II/III rectal adenocarcinoma 
Purpose
Neoadjuvant chemoradiation has become the standard treatment in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) and improves local control. This study explored the feasibility of an intensified chemoradiation treatment followed by one cycle of capecitabine before surgery for LARC.
Methods and materials
Patients with histologically confirmed, newly diagnosed, locally advanced rectal adenocarcinoma (cT3-T4 and/or cN+) located within 12 cm of the anal verge were included in this study. Patients received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to the pelvis (total dose 44 Gy in 20 fractions), as well as concurrent oxaliplatin (50 mg/m2 d1 weekly) and capecitabine (625 mg/m2 b.i.d. d1–5 weekly). One cycle of capecitabine (1000 mg/m2 b.i.d. d1–14) was given two weeks after the completion of concomitant chemoradiation, and radical surgery was scheduled six weeks after chemoradiation.
Results
Between October 2007 and November 2008, a total of 42 patients were enrolled in the study (median age 51 years; 31 male). Of these, 38 underwent surgical resection and 4 refused radical surgery because of almost complete primary tumor regression and complete symptom relief after neoadjuvant therapy. Fifteen patients underwent sphincter-sparing lower anterior resection. Six patients had a pathological complete response (pCR). The incidence of grade 3 hematologic, gastro-intestinal, and skin toxicities were 4.7%, 14.3%, and 26.2%, respectively. Grade 4 toxicity was not observed. Surgical complications (incisional infection within 2–3 weeks after surgery) were observed in 5 patients. Good responders (defined as TRG 3–4) had a significant difference in DFS (81.6% vs. 16.8%, respectively; p = 0.000) and OS (83.9% vs. 40.7%, respectively; p = 0.007) compared to those who were evaluated as TRG 1–2.
Conclusions
Our study indicates that neoadjuvant chemoradiation followed by one cycle of capecitabine before surgery has a good treatment efficacy, with only mild toxicities associated with chemoradiation and acceptable surgical complications. Treatment response was an early surrogate marker and correlated to oncologic prognosis.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-8-130
PMCID: PMC3680166  PMID: 23718210
Rectal cancer; Intensity-modulated radiation therapy; Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy
2.  Prospective Phase II Study of Preoperative Chemoradiation with Capecitabine in Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer 
Purpose
Capecitabine is an attractive oral chemotherapeutic agent that has a radiosensitizing effect and tumor-selectivity. This study was performed to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of preoperative chemoradiation therapy, when used with oral capecitabine, for locally advanced rectal cancer.
Materials and Methods
A prospective phase II trial of preoperative chemoradiation for locally advanced adenocarcinomas of the lower two-thirds of the rectum was conducted. A radiation dose of 50 Gy over five weeks and a daily dose of 1650 mg/m2 capecitabine in two potions was administered during the entire course of radiation therapy. Surgery was performed with standardized total mesorectal excision four to six weeks after completion of the chemoradiation.
Results
Between January 2002 and September 2003, 61 patients were enrolled onto this prospective phase II trial. The pretreatment clinical stages were T3 in 64% (n=39), T4 in 36% (n=22) and N1-2 in 82% (n=50) of these patients. Fifty-six (92%) patients completed the chemoradiation as initially planned and a complete resection performed in 58 (95%). Down-staging was observed in 45 patients (74%) and a pathologic complete response in 6 (10%). Among the 37 patients with tumors located within 5 cm from the anal verge on colonoscopy, 27 (73%) underwent a sphincter-preserving procedure. No grade 3 and 4 proctitis or hematological toxicities were observed.
Conclusion
Preoperative chemoradiation therapy with capecitabine achieved encouraging rates of tumor downstaging and sphincter preservation, with a low toxicity profile. This combined modality can be regarded as a safe and effective treatment for locally advanced rectal cancer.
doi:10.4143/crt.2004.36.6.354
PMCID: PMC2843876  PMID: 20368828
Rectal cancer; Preoperative; Chemoradiotherapy; Capecitabine
3.  Is Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery Adequate in the Removal of Rectal Lesions? 
Introduction
Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) was developed by G. Buess in 1983 as a minimally invasive surgery for the removal of anorectal lesions that cannot be excised by conventional transanal instruments. TEM uses specialized equipment including an operating proctoscope and insufflator to form an airtight system. We reviewed the experience of a single surgeon using this technique at our institution.
Methods
A retrospective and prospective review of all patients who underwent TEM between November 2002 and April 2007 by a single surgeon at our institution was performed. One hundred thirteen patients were identified. All 113 patients had a preoperative enema. Those with rectal lesions also underwent rectal endoscopic ultrasonography (REUS). A single dose of preoperative cefazolin and metronidazole was given before the start of all procedures. All patients were followed with flexible sigmoidoscopy at 1, 6, and 12 months.
Results
A total of 113 patients underwent TEM excision between November 2002 and April 2007. Diagnoses included benign adenomas (64.6%), carcinoid tumors (14.6%), T1 cancers (18.8%), and a small number of T2 cancers (2.1%). The mean distance from the anal verge was 16 cm. Mean operative time was 79 minutes (range, 48–170 minutes). The average blood loss was 100 cc. The average length of hospital stay was less than 24 hours; 92 patients went home the same day. The longest length of stay was 7 days for a patient who had a long segment of carpet adenomas between 14–6 cm and the peritoneum was entered and subsequently closed. However, postoperatively, there was a question of peritoneal signs and the patient was explored. No spillage was found but the presence of clots was found. In one case, the procedure could not be completed due to a tortuous rectum and the patient underwent a low anterior resection instead. Two patients experienced postoperative bleeding that stopped without intervention and did not require transfusion. One patient developed a hematoma that drained on its own. In all cases, postoperative pain was controlled with oral narcotics. Eight patients had a recurrence of their lesion.
Discussion
Endoscopic removal of adenomatous colorectal polyps during diagnostic procedures is the first-line treatment of such lesions. It is efficient, safe, relatively inexpensive, and associated with the lowest complication rate. However, this is not always possible due to size and/or location limitations. Additionally, adenomas in the middle or upper rectum are difficult to remove using standard transanal excision instruments. In our series, only 5 of 113 patients (4%) experienced any type of complication. These consisted of bleeding and hematoma. This finding is consistent with other evidence in the literature. TEM is an effective treatment for lesions between 6–18 cm. We believe that it is less invasive than abdominal surgery or the Kraske procedure. The need for conversion and the complication rates are low. It is a useful tool for surgeons to excise lesions that cannot be reached by traditional transanal instruments. Of the 8 patients who had recurrences, 6 were benign while 2 were malignant. The 2 patients with malignant recurrences were not candidates for abdominal surgery due to their comorbidities. TEM is adequate for the removal of rectal lesions, providing the patients are appropriate candidates for the procedure.
PMCID: PMC2645510
4.  Surgical treatment for locally advanced lower third rectal cancer after neoadjuvent chemoradiation with capecitabine: prospective phase II trial 
Introduction
Treatment of rectal cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach with standardized surgical, pathological and radiotherapeutic procedures. Sphincter preserving surgery for cancer of the lower rectum needs a long-course of neoadjuvant treatments to reduce tumor volume, to induce down-staging that increases circumferential resection margin, and to facilitate surgery.
Aim
To evaluate the rate of anal sphincter preservation in low lying, resectable, locally advanced rectal cancer and the resectability rate in unresectable cases after neoadjuvent chemoradiation by oral Capecitabine.
Patients and methods
This trial included 43 patients with low lying (4–7 cm from anal verge) locally advanced rectal cancer, of which 33 were resectable. All patients received preoperative concurrent chemoradiation (45 Gy/25 fractions over 5 weeks with oral capecitabine 825 mg/m2 twice daily on radiotherapy days), followed after 4–6 weeks by total mesorectal excision technique.
Results
Preoperative chemoradiation resulted in a complete pathologic response in 4 patients (9.3%; 95% CI 3–23.1) and an overall downstaging in 32 patients (74.4%; 95% CI 58.5–85). Sphincter sparing surgical procedures were done in 20 out of 43 patients (46.5%; 95% CI 31.5–62.2). The majority (75%) were of clinical T3 disease. Toxicity was moderate and required no treatment interruption. Grade II anemia occurred in 4 patients (9.3%, 95% CI 3–23.1), leucopenia in 2 patients (4.7%, 95% CI 0.8–17) and radiation dermatitis in 4 patients (9.3%, 95% CI 3–23.1) respectively.
Conclusion
In patients with low lying, locally advanced rectal cancer, preoperative chemoradiation using oral capecitabine 825 mg/m2, twice a day on radiotherapy days, was tolerable and effective in downstaging and resulted in 46.5% anal sphincter preservation rate.
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-7-52
PMCID: PMC2699338  PMID: 19508705
5.  Transanal endoscopic microsurgery combined with endoscopic posterior mesorectum resection in the treatment of patients with T1 rectal cancer – 3-year results 
Introduction
Rectum-sparing transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is a well-established treatment for T1 rectal cancer (RC). However, it is associated with an increased rate of local recurrence in comparison with extended resection. In most cases this failure is linked to inappropriate case selection and the presence of clinically non-detectable metastases in the regional lymph nodes. Endoscopic posterior mesorectal resection (EPMR) makes it possible to remove the relevant lymphatic drainage of the lower third of the rectum in a minimally invasive way, which in turn can help in adequate tumor staging.
Aim
To evaluate the long-term clinical results and influence of combined TEM and EPMR treatment on the anorectal functions.
Material and methods
Ten consecutive patients with T1 RC were operated on using TEM and EPMR as a two-stage procedure between 2007 and 2009.
Results
After a median follow-up of 42.6 (range: 36–80) months, none of our patients complained of symptoms of incontinence apart from one female patient with gas incontinence diagnosed preoperatively. There was no statistically significant difference in basal anal pressure, squeeze anal pressure, high pressure zone length or fecal continence assessed using the Fecal Incontinence Severity Index before and in follow-up months after the procedure. Postoperative morbidity consisted of one hematoma formation and one male patient complaining about sexual dysfunction until 6 months postoperatively. There was no evidence of locoregional recurrence.
Conclusions
Endoscopic posterior mesorectal resection in combination with TEM appears to be safe, feasible and with no impact on the basic anorectal functions in the 3-year follow-up.
doi:10.5114/wiitm.2014.40384
PMCID: PMC3983548  PMID: 24729808
transanal endoscopic microsurgery; rectal cancer; endoscopic posterior mesorectal resection
6.  Transanal endoscopic microsurgery: what indications in 2013? 
Gastroenterology Report  2013;1(2):75-84.
Thanks to major advances in the field of surgical techniques and neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy, along with more accurate pre-operative staging tools and the widespread introduction of population-based screening programs, treatment of rectal cancer has been evolving over the past few decades, moving towards a more tailored approach. This has brought a shift in the treatment algorithm of benign rectal lesions and selected early rectal cancers, for which today transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is accepted as an effective alternative to abdominal surgery.
In 2013, topics of controversy are the role of TEM in the treatment of more advanced rectal cancers, in cases of complete pathological response after chemoradiation therapy and the role of TEM as a platform for single-port surgery and NOTES. This article reviews the current indications for TEM and the future perspectives of this approach in the treatment of rectal tumors.
doi:10.1093/gastro/got012
PMCID: PMC3938006  PMID: 24759812
transanal endoscopic microsurgery; full-thickness excision; rectal adenoma; early rectal cancer; chemoradiation; NOTES
7.  Transanal endoscopic microsurgery: a review 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2014;57(2):127-138.
Rectal adenomas and cancers occur frequently. Small adenomas can be removed colonoscopically, whereas larger polyps are removed via conventional transanal excision. Owing to technical difficulties, adenomas of the mid- and upper rectum require radical resection. Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) was first designed as an alternative treatment for these lesions. However, since its development TEM has been also used for a variety of rectal lesions, including carcinoids, rectal prolapse and diverticula, early stage carcinomas and palliative resection of rectal cancers. The objective of this review is to describe the current status of TEM in the treatment of rectal lesions. Since the 1980s, TEM has advanced substantially. With low recurrence rates, it is the method of choice for resection of endoscopically unresectable adenomas. Some studies have shown benefits to its use in treating early T1 rectal cancers compared with radical surgery in select patients. However, for more advanced rectal cancers TEM should be considered palliative or experimental. This technique has also been shown to be safe for the treatment of other uncommon rectal tumours, such as carcinoids. Transanal endoscopic microsurgery may allow for new strategies in the treatment of rectal pathology where technical limitations of transanal techniques have limited endoluminal surgical innovations.
doi:10.1503/cjs.022412
PMCID: PMC3968206  PMID: 24666451
8.  Current experience and future directions of completely NOTES colorectal resection 
Clinical implementation and widespread application of natural orifice translumenal surgery (NOTES) has been limited by the lack of specialized endoscopic equipment, which has prevented the ability to perform complex procedures including colorectal resections. Relative to other types of translumenal access, transanal NOTES using transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) provides a stable platform for endolumenal and direct translumenal access to the peritoneal cavity, and specifically to the colon and rectum. Completely NOTES transanal rectosigmoid resection using TEM, with or without transgastric endoscopic assistance, was demonstrated to be feasible and safe in a swine survival model. The same technique was successfully replicated in human cadavers using commercially available TEM, with endoscopic and laparoscopic instrumentation. This approach also permitted complete rectal mobilization with total mesorectal excision to be performed completely transanally. As in the swine model, transgastric and/or transanal endoscopic assistance extended the length of proximal colon mobilized and overcame some of the difficulties with TEM dissection including limited endoscopic visualization and maladapted instrumentation. This extensive laboratory experience with NOTES transanal rectosigmoid resection served as the basis for the first human NOTES transanal rectal cancer excision using TEM and laparoscopic assistance. Based on this early clinical experience, NOTES transanal approach using TEM holds significant promise as a safe and substantially less morbid alternative to conventional colorectal resection in the management of benign and malignant colorectal diseases. Careful patient selection and substantial improvement in NOTES instrumentation are critical to optimize this approach prior to widespread clinical application, and may ultimately permit completely NOTES transanal colorectal resection.
doi:10.4240/wjgs.v2.i6.193
PMCID: PMC2999239  PMID: 21160873
Colorectal diseases; Transanal endoscopic microsurgery; Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery
9.  A phase II study of capecitabine and irinotecan in combination with concurrent pelvic radiotherapy (CapIri-RT) as neoadjuvant treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;96(6):912-917.
We sought to evaluate the efficacy and safety data of a combination regimen using weekly irinotecan in combination with capecitabine and concurrent radiotherapy (CapIri-RT) as neoadjuvant treatment in rectal cancer in a phase-II trial. Patients with rectal cancer clinical stages T3/4 Nx or N+ were recruited to receive irinotecan (50 mg m−2 weekly) and capecitabine (500 mg m−2 bid days 1–38) with a concurrent RT dose of 50.4 Gy. Surgery was scheduled 4–6 weeks after the completion of chemoradiation. A total of 36 patients (median age 62 years; m/f: 27:9) including three patients with local recurrence were enclosed onto the trial. The median distance of the tumour from the anal verge was 5 cm. The main toxicity observed was (NCI-CTC grades 1/2/3/4 (n)): Anaemia 23/9/−/−; leucocytopenia 12/7/7/2, diarrhoea 13/15/4/−, nausea/vomiting 9/10/2/−, and increased activity of transaminases 3/3/1/−. One patient had a reversible episode of ventricular fibrillation during chemoradiation, most probably caused by capecitabine. The relative dose intensity was (median/mean (%)): irinotecan 95/91, capecitabine 100/92). Thirty-four patients underwent surgery (anterior resection n=25; abdomino-perineal resection n=6; Hartmann's procedure n=3). R0-resection was accomplished in all patients. Two patients died in the postoperative course from septic complications. Pathological complete remission was observed in five out of 34 resected patients (15%), and nine patients showed microfoci of residual tumour (26%). After a median follow-up of 28 months one patient had developed a local recurrence, and five patients distant metastases. Three-year overall survival for all patients with surgery (excluding three patients treated for local relapse or with primary metastatic disease) was 80%. In summary, preoperative chemoradiation with CapIri-RT exhibits promising efficacy whereas showing managable toxicity. The local recurrence and distant failure rates observed after a median 28 months are low compared with standard 5-fluorouracil based therapy.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603645
PMCID: PMC2360100  PMID: 17325705
capecitabine; irinotecan; locally advanced rectal cancer; chemoradiotherapy
10.  Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery for the Treatment of Well-Differentiated Rectal Neuroendocrine Tumors 
Purpose
Recently, an increase in well-differentiated rectal neuroendocrine tumors (WRNETs) has been noted. We aimed to evaluate transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) for the treatment of WRNETs.
Methods
Between December 1995 and August 2009, 109 patients with WRNETs underwent TEM. TEM was performed for patients with tumors sizes of up to 20 mm and without a lymphadenopathy. These patients had been referred from other clinics after having been diagnosed with WRNETs by using a colonoscopic biopsy; they had undergone a failed endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) or endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and exhibited an involved resection margin and remaining tumor after ESD or EMR, regardless of the distance from the anal verge. This study included 38 patients that had more than three years of follow-up.
Results
The mean age of the patients was 51.3 ± 11.9 years, the mean tumor size was 8.0 ± 3.9 mm, and no morbidity occurred. Thirty-five patients were asymptomatic. TEM was performed after a colonoscopic resection in 13 cases because of a positive resection margin, a residual tumor or a non-lifting lesion. Complete resections were performed in 37 patients; one patient with a positive margin was considered surgically complete. In one patient, liver metastasis and a recurrent mesorectal node occurred after five and 10 years, respectively.
Conclusion
TEM might provide an accessible and effective treatment either as an initial or as an adjunct after a colonoscopic resection for a WRNET.
doi:10.3393/jksc.2012.28.4.201
PMCID: PMC3440489  PMID: 22993706
Well-differentiated rectal neuroendocrine tumors; Transanal endoscopic microsurgery; Colonoscopic resection; Treatment
11.  Short–term effects of neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy on anorectal function in rectal cancer patients: a pilot study 
Background
Neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy followed by curative surgery has gained acceptance as the therapy of choice in locally advanced rectal cancer. However, deterioration of anorectal function after long-course neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy combined with surgery for rectal cancer is poorly defined. The aim of this study was to evaluate the physiological and clinical change of anorectal function after neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy for rectal cancer.
Methods
We analyzed 30 patients on whom preoperative anorectal manometry data were available both before and after chemoradiation from October 2010 to September 2011. All patients underwent long-course neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy. We compared manometric parameters between before and after neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy.
Results
Of 30 patients, 20 were males and 10 females. The mean age was 64.9 ± 9.9 years (range, 48-82). Before nCRT, the rectal compliance was higher in patients with ulceroinfiltrative type (P = 0.035) and greater involvement of luminal circumference (P = 0.017). However, there was the tendency of increased rectal sensory threshold for desire to defecate when the patient had decreased circumferential ratio of the tumor (P = 0.099), down-graded T stage (P = 0.016), or reduced tumor volume (P = 0.063) after neoadjuvant chemoradiation.
Conclusions
Neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy did not significantly impair overall sphincter function before radical operation. The relationship between tumor response of chemoradiation and sensory threshold for desire to defecate may suggest that neoadjuvant chemoradiation may be helpful for defecatory function as well as local disease control, at least in the short-term period after the radiation in locally advanced rectal cancer patients.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-8-203
PMCID: PMC3766044  PMID: 23961877
Anorectal function; Neoadjuvant chemoradiation; Manometry; Rectal cancer
12.  Management of Refractory Metastatic Anal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Following Disease Progression on Traditional Chemoradiation Therapy 
Case Study
Ms. S.G., a 56-year-old woman with a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal, American Joint Committee on Cancer stage III (T2, N1, M0), was initially diagnosed in December, 2007 at an outside institution after she had noted blood in her stool for approximately 6 months. Her medical history was unremarkable. She had no known history of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. At the time of presentation, Ms. S.G. had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 1 related to cancer-related pain. Her appetite and weight were both stable.
A complete colonoscopy demonstrated a large, immobile, ulcerated, firm, 4-cm lesion in the distal rectum, arising from the anal canal. Initial staging positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scan revealed a hypermetabolic inferior anorectal mass with left perirectal and presacral nodal metastases. There was no definite evidence of distant metastatic disease.
Ms. S.G. received chemoradiation treatment following her diagnostic studies, with a total dose of 45 Gy over 26 fractions to the pelvis with concurrent infusional fluorouracil (5-FU; 2, 450 mg over 7 days) and mitomycin C (12 mg/m2 on day 1) at an outside institution. However, during her chemoradiation therapy, Ms. S.G. experienced a 3-week treatment break due to severe radiation dermatitis, as recommended by her outside treating oncologist.
Upon treatment completion, Ms. S.G. underwent a biopsy of the anal canal, which revealed no evidence of residual malignancy. As recommended by her treating oncologist, she received four additional cycles of adjuvant infusional 5-FU in combination with leucovorin. Shortly thereafter, Ms. S.G. developed progressive pelvic pain. She underwent a second PET/CT scan, revealing mixed findings: interval resolution of abnormal standardized uptake value (SUV) activity at the primary tumor in the anal canal, but an increase in the size and SUV of nodal disease within the left perirectal and presacral regions. A CT-guided biopsy noted a perirectal abscess requiring drainage but was inconclusive for disease recurrence; Ms. S.G. was treated with IV antibiotics.
Six weeks later, repeat radiographic imaging noted additional changes suspicious for regional recurrence, which was biopsy-confirmed. Ms. S.G. was subsequently referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center for consideration of salvage pelvic exenteration.
On physical exam a mass was palpated in the left lower quadrant, but there was no evidence of inguinal adenopathy. On digital rectal exam there was notable external erythema with a fixed mass and moderate sphincter tone. A chest CT scan showed no definite evidence of metastatic disease, but an MRI of the abdomen/pelvis indicated the presence of a complex partially necrotic mass (7.6 × 4.9 × 7.3 cm3) extending to the rectosigmoid junction, inseparable from the left lateral bowel wall, with partial encasement of the bowel. In addition, there was infiltration of the left piriformis muscle and cervix consistent with local recurrence. She was referred to medical oncology and radiation oncology for consideration of reirradiation with concurrent neoadjuvant chemotherapy for palliation and possible surgical resection.
In early December 2008, Ms. S.G. received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), with a total dose of 27 Gy over 18 fractions. She received concurrent infusional 5-FU at 300 mg/m2/day, from Monday to Friday, on the days of radiation. She also received a weekly bolus dose of cisplatin at 20 mg/m2. The intent was to treat to 30 Gy, but the patient deferred further treatment early due to anorectal irritation. She then underwent restaging with a PET/CT scan and a pelvic MRI in February 2009, revealing radiographic partial response of the known pelvic recurrence and reduced pelvic pain (Figures 1A and 1B). Figure 1 Figure 1. Contrast-enhanced axial MRI image of the lower pelvis. (A) Pretreatment, complex mass at the rectosigmoid junction measuring approximately 7.6 × 4.9 × 7.3 cm3. (B) Posttreatment, large necrotic mass measuring 3–4 cm in greatest dimension.
Unfortunately, in the interim, she developed multiple bilateral liver lesions and punctate pulmonary nodules consistent with distant disease (Figures 2A, 2B, and 3A). Figure 2 Figure 2. Contrast-enhanced axial CT images of the lung. (A) Subcentimeter nodular opacity in the left upper lobe. (B) Subcentimeter opacity in the right upper lung lobe. Figure 3 Figure 3. Contrast-enhanced axial CT image of the liver. (A) Pretreatment, multiple bilateral liver lesions. (B) Posttreatment, near-complete resolution of liver lesions.
Ms. S.G. proceeded to undergo systemic chemotherapy with carboplatin at an area under the concentration-time curve of 5 and paclitaxel at 175 mg/m2 day 1, every 21 days. She tolerated the treatment well. After three cycles of chemotherapy, radiographic imaging indicated a mixed response to treatment: interval resolution of the pulmonary nodules, stability of disease in the pelvic mass, but progression of the hepatic metastases.
Given Ms. S.G.'s continuing excellent performance status, further treatment was recommended. Based on recent published literature, a regimen of cisplatin at 80 mg/m2 day 1, vinorelbine at 25 mg/m2 day 1 (repeated every 28 days), and weekly cetuximab (VCC) at 250 mg/m2 was initiated. Remarkably, following three cycles of treatment, despite receiving multiple prior lines of chemotherapy, her restaging CT scan demonstrated complete radiographic response of the intrathoracic disease, stable response of the anorectal mass, and near-complete resolution of the hepatic lesions (Figures 3A and 3B).
Overall, Ms. S.G. had tolerated her treatment very well. Given her response and tolerability, she was evaluated again for curative surgical resection. However, she opted to receive the VCC regimen closer to home and was lost to follow-up. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain medical records confirming if she indeed received additional treatment as recommended. Ms. S.G. was noted to have passed away due to progression of her disease approximately 6 months later.
PMCID: PMC4093318
13.  Concomitant boost IMRT-based neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for clinical stage II/III rectal adenocarcinoma: results of a phase II study 
Aim
This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and toxicities of concomitant boost intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) along with capecitabine and oxaliplatin, followed by a cycle of Xelox, in neoadjuvant course for locally advanced rectal cancer.
Materials and methods
Patients with histologically confirmed, newly diagnosed, locally advanced rectal adenocarcinoma (cT3-T4 and/or cN+) located within 12 cm of the anal verge were included in this study. Patients received IMRT to the pelvis of 50 Gy and a concomitant boost of 5 Gy to the primary tumor in 25 fractions, and concurrent with oxaliplatin (50 mg/m2 d1 weekly) and capecitabine (625 mg/m2 bid d1–5 weekly). One cycle of Xelox (oxaliplatin 130 mg/m2 on d1 and capecitabine 1000 mg/m2 twice daily d1–14) was given two weeks after the completion of chemoradiation, and radical surgery was scheduled eight weeks after chemoradiation. Tumor response was evaluated by tumor regression grade (TRG) system and acute toxicities were evaluated by NCI-CTC 3.0 criteria. Survival curves were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared with Log-rank test.
Results
A total of 78 patients were included between March 2009 and May 2011 (median age 54 years; 62 male). Seventy-six patients underwent surgical resection. Twenty-eight patients underwent sphincter-sparing lower anterior resection and 18 patients (23.7%) were evaluated as pathological complete response (pCR). The incidences of grade 3 hematologic toxicity, diarrhea, and radiation dermatitis were 3.8%, 10.3%, and 17.9%, respectively. The three-year LR (local recurrence), DFS (disease-free survival) and OS (overall survival) rates were 14.6%, 63.8% and 77.4%, respectively. Initial clinical T stage and tumor regression were independent prognostic factors to DFS.
Conclusion
An intensified regimen of concomitant boost radiotherapy plus concurrent capecitabine and oxaliplatin, followed by one cycle of Xelox, can be safely administered in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer, and produces a high rate of pCR. A prognostic score model is helpful to distinguish different long-term prognosis groups in early stage.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-9-70
PMCID: PMC3984733  PMID: 24606870
Rectal cancer; Intensity-modulated radiation therapy; Concomitant boost; Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy
14.  Single incision laparoscopic surgery - trans anal endoscopic microsurgery: A technological innovation 
Trans anal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) first burst upon the scene several decades ago and then underwent a period of immersion. We have herein reported our experience in two cases who underwent TEM using laparoscopic techniques. The advent of single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS) has made great inroads into various fields of general and gastrointestinal (GI) surgery. We decided to make use of the same technique in TEM for two patients who had large sessile villous adenomas of the rectum. We used this port and fixed it transanally to the edge of the anus. Carbon dioxide used for insufflation in laparoscopic surgery was used through one of the ports, and a telescope was inserted to the larger port. We made sure that the entire polyp was cut out completely until the circular muscle of the internal sphincter was clearly exposed. Next, the cut edges of the rectum were undermined between the mucosa and the circular muscles in order to bring the cut edges closer together. We were able to perform this SILS TEM in two cases. In both the cases, well differentiated villous adenoma (colonoscopically, biopsy proven before surgery) was confirmed after excision. The question has been raised whether TEM is the new laparoscopy for anorectal surgery. Increasingly, several reports are showing promise for treatment for early stage cancers and large rectal adenomas using TEM. Adoption of our technique using the SILS port that has not been previously described in medical literature, seems to be a promising tool for the future.
TEM first burst upon the scene several decades ago and then under went a period of immersion. In recent years, with the onset of laparoscopic surgery, the thoughts and the ideas of using a laparoscopic surgical technique have invaded the area of colorectal cancer as well. We have herein reported our experience in two cases who underwent TEM using laparoscopic techniques.
doi:10.4103/0972-9941.129970
PMCID: PMC3996744  PMID: 24761088
Anal canal; single incision laparoscopic surgery; trans anal endoscopic microsurgery; villous adenoma
15.  Pharmacy Refill Adherence Compared with CD4 Count Changes for Monitoring HIV-Infected Adults on Antiretroviral Therapy 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e109.
Background
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for monitoring HIV-infected individuals taking combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in resource-limited settings recommend using CD4+ T cell (CD4) count changes to monitor treatment effectiveness. In practice, however, falling CD4 counts are a consequence, rather than a cause, of virologic failure. Adherence lapses precede virologic failure and, unlike CD4 counts, data on adherence are immediately available to all clinics dispensing cART. However, the accuracy of adherence assessments for predicting future or detecting current virologic failure has not been determined. The goal of this study therefore was to determine the accuracy of adherence assessments for predicting and detecting virologic failure and to compare the accuracy of adherence-based monitoring approaches with approaches monitoring CD4 count changes.
Methodology and Findings
We conducted an observational cohort study among 1,982 of 4,984 (40%) HIV-infected adults initiating non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based cART in the Aid for AIDS Disease Management Program, which serves nine countries in southern Africa. Pharmacy refill adherence was calculated as the number of months of cART claims submitted divided by the number of complete months between cART initiation and the last refill prior to the endpoint of interest, expressed as a percentage. The main outcome measure was virologic failure defined as a viral load > 1,000 copies/ml (1) at an initial assessment either 6 or 12 mo after cART initiation and (2) after a previous undetectable (i.e., < 400 copies/ml) viral load (breakthrough viremia). Adherence levels outperformed CD4 count changes when used to detect current virologic failure in the first year after cART initiation (area under the receiver operating characteristic [ROC] curves [AUC] were 0.79 and 0.68 [difference = 0.11; 95% CI 0.06 to 0.16; χ2 = 20.1] respectively at 6 mo, and 0.85 and 0.75 [difference = 0.10; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.14; χ2 = 20.2] respectively at 12 mo; p < 0.001 for both comparisons). When used to detect current breakthrough viremia, adherence and CD4 counts were equally accurate (AUCs of 0.68 versus 0.67, respectively [difference = 0.01; 95% CI −0.06 to 0.07]; χ2 = 0.1, p > 0.5). In addition, adherence levels assessed 3 mo prior to viral load assessments were as accurate for virologic failure occurring approximately 3 mo later as were CD4 count changes calculated from cART initiation to the actual time of the viral load assessments, indicating the potential utility of adherence assessments for predicting future, rather than simply detecting current, virologic failure. Moreover, combinations of CD4 count and adherence data appeared useful in identifying patients at very low risk of virologic failure.
Conclusions
Pharmacy refill adherence assessments were as accurate as CD4 counts for detecting current virologic failure in this cohort of patients on cART and have the potential to predict virologic failure before it occurs. Approaches to cART scale-up in resource-limited settings should include an adherence-based monitoring approach.
Analyzing pharmacy and laboratory records from 1,982 patients beginning HIV therapy in southern Africa, Gregory Bisson and colleagues find medication adherence superior to CD4 count changes in identifying treatment failure.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Globally, more than 30 million people are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Combinations of antiretroviral drugs that hold HIV in check (viral suppression) have been available since 1996. Unfortunately, most of the people affected by HIV/AIDS live in developing countries and cannot afford these expensive drugs. As a result, life expectancy has plummeted and economic growth has reversed in these poor countries since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic. Faced with this humanitarian crisis, the lack of access to HIV treatment was declared a global health emergency in 2003. Today, through the concerted efforts of governments, international organizations, and funding bodies, about a quarter of the HIV-positive people in developing and transitional countries who are in immediate need of life-saving, combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) receive the drugs they need.
Why Was This Study Done?
To maximize the benefits of cART, health-care workers in developing countries need simple, affordable ways to monitor viral suppression in their patients—a poor virologic response to cART can lead to the selection of drug-resistant HIV, rapid disease progression, and death. In developed countries, virologic response is monitored by measuring the number of viral particles in patients' blood (viral load) but this technically demanding assay is unavailable in most developing countries. Instead, the World Health Organization recommends that CD4+ T cell (CD4) counts be used to monitor patient responses to cART in resource-limited settings. HIV results in loss of CD4 cells (a type of immune system cell), so a drop in a patient's CD4 count often indicates virologic failure (failure of treatment to suppress the virus). However, falling CD4 counts are often a result of virologic failure and therefore monitoring CD4 counts for drops is unlikely to prevent virologic failure from occurring. Rather, falling CD4 counts are often used only to guide a change to new medicines, which may be even more expensive or difficult to take. On the other hand “adherence lapses”—the failure to take cART regularly—often precede virologic failure, so detecting them early provides an opportunity for improvement in adherence that could prevent virologic failure. Because clinics that dispense cART routinely collect data that can be used to calculate adherence, in this study the researchers investigate whether assessing adherence might provide an alternative, low-cost way to monitor and predict virologic failure among HIV-infected adults on cART.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The Aid for AIDS Disease Management Program provides cART to medical insurance fund subscribers in nine countries in southern Africa. Data on claims for antiretroviral drugs made through this program, plus CD4 counts assessed at about 6 or 12 months after initiating cART, and viral load measurements taken within 45 days of a CD4 count, were available for nearly 2,000 HIV-positive adults who had been prescribed a combination of HIV drugs including either efavirenz or nevirapine. The researchers defined adherence as the number of months of cART claims submitted divided by the number of complete months between cART initiation and the last pharmacy refill before a viral load assessment was performed. Virologic failure was defined in two ways: as a viral load of more than 1,000 copies per ml of blood 6 or 12 months after cART initiation, or as a rebound of viral load to similar levels after a previously very low reading (breakthrough viremia). The researchers' statistical analysis of these data shows that at 6 and 12 months after initiation of cART, adherence levels indicated virologic failure more accurately than CD4 count changes. For breakthrough viremia, both measurements were equally accurate. Adherence levels during the first 3 months of cART predicted virologic failure at 6 months as accurately as did CD4 count changes since cART initiation. Finally, the combination of adherence levels and CD4 count changes accurately identified patients at very low risk of virologic failure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that adherence assessments (based in this study on insurance claims for pharmacy refills) can identify the patients on cART who are at high and low risk of virologic failure at least as accurately as CD4 counts. In addition, they suggest that adherence assessments could be used for early identification of patients at high risk of virologic failure, averting the health impact of treatment failure and the cost of changing to second-line drug regimens. Studies need to be done in other settings (in particular, in public clinics where cART is provided without charge) to confirm the generalizability of these findings. These finding do not change that fact that monitoring CD4 counts plays an important role in deciding when to start cART or indicating when cART is no longer protecting the immune system. But, write the researchers, systematic monitoring of adherence to cART should be considered as an alternative to CD4 count monitoring in patients who are receiving cART in resource-limited settings or as a way to direct the use of viral load testing where feasible.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050109.
This study is discussed further in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by David Bangsberg
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including an article about adherence to antiretroviral therapy
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Africa and on providing AIDS drug treatment for millions
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to HIV treatment (in several languages) and on its recommendations for antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on global efforts to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050109
PMCID: PMC2386831  PMID: 18494555
16.  Transanal endoscopic microsurgery in treatment of rectal adenomas and T1 low-risk carcinomas 
Background
Transanal endoscopic microsurgery as a local therapy option for rectal neoplasms is a tissue-sparing technique that protects the anal sphincter. The present retrospective analysis reports the course of observation after local excision of adenomas and T1 low-risk carcinomas using transanal endoscopic microsurgery.
Methods
In a retrospective analysis we examined data on 279 patients for local recurrence. A total of 144 patients had a rectal adenoma (n = 103) or a R0 resection of low-risk T1 carcinomas (n = 41). In this collective, we also examined parameters concerning perioperative management, complications, intraoperative blood loss and duration of hospital stay.
Results
Patients with adenoma were on average 64.9 (range 37 to 90) years old; 83.5% of the adenomas were located 3 to 11 cm from the anocutaneous line. In adenoma patients the recurrence rate was 2.9% for an observation period of 21.8 months. The postoperative course was without any complications in 98.1% of patients.
Patients with T1 low-risk carcinoma were 64.6 (range 30 to 89) years old. In all cases, an R0 resection could be performed. The recurrence rate was 9.8% for an observation period of 34.4 months. In this group the postoperative course was free of complications in 97.6% of patients.
Conclusions
The high efficacy of transanal endoscopic microsurgery ensures minimally invasive treatment of adenomas and low-risk T1 carcinomas with low complication rates and a low rate of therapeutic failure.
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-10-255
PMCID: PMC3556112  PMID: 23181563
Transanal endoscopic microsurgery; Rectal adenoma; Rectal carcinoma; Local excision; Endoscopic surgery
17.  Neoadjuvant capecitabine, radiotherapy, and bevacizumab (CRAB) in locally advanced rectal cancer: results of an open-label phase II study 
Background
Preoperative capecitabine-based chemoradiation is a standard treatment for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Here, we explored the safety and efficacy of the addition of bevacizumab to capecitabine and concurrent radiotherapy for LARC.
Methods
Patients with MRI-confirmed stage II/III rectal cancer received bevacizumab 5 mg/kg i.v. 2 weeks prior to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy followed by bevacizumab 5 mg/kg on Days 1, 15 and 29, capecitabine 825 mg/m2 twice daily on Days 1-38, and concurrent radiotherapy 50.4 Gy (1.8 Gy/day, 5 days/week for 5 weeks + three 1.8 Gy/day), starting on Day 1. Total mesorectal excision was scheduled 6-8 weeks after completion of chemoradiotherapy. Tumour regression grades (TRG) were evaluated on surgical specimens according to Dworak. The primary endpoint was pathological complete response (pCR).
Results
61 patients were enrolled (median age 60 years [range 31-80], 64% male). Twelve patients (19.7%) had T3N0 tumours, 1 patient T2N1, 19 patients (31.1%) T3N1, 2 patients (3.3%) T2N2, 22 patients (36.1%) T3N2 and 5 patients (8.2%) T4N2. Median tumour distance from the anal verge was 6 cm (range 0-11). Grade 3 adverse events included dermatitis (n = 6, 9.8%), proteinuria (n = 4, 6.5%) and leucocytopenia (n = 3, 4.9%). Radical resection was achieved in 57 patients (95%), and 42 patients (70%) underwent sphincter-preserving surgery. TRG 4 (pCR) was recorded in 8 patients (13.3%) and TRG 3 in 9 patients (15.0%). T-, N- and overall downstaging rates were 45.2%, 73.8%, and 73.8%, respectively.
Conclusions
This study demonstrates the feasibility of preoperative chemoradiotherapy with bevacizumab and capecitabine. The observed adverse events of neoadjuvant treatment are comparable with those previously reported, but the pCR rate was lower.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-6-105
PMCID: PMC3179720  PMID: 21880132
capecitabine; chemoradiation; bevacizumab; locally advanced rectal cancer; LARC; phase II study
18.  The pull-through: back to the future 
Il Giornale di Chirurgia  2013;34(11-12):293-301.
SUMMARY
Background
Historically, coloanal pull-through (P-T) has been the first surgical procedure adopted to facilitate a handmade lower anastomosis. Very popular around mid twentieth century, P-T has had poor diffusion, mainly as a consequence of the technical simplifications brought by staplers. Recent literature seems poor on this specific topic, despite description of P-T appears in published series during the reconstructive phase of total laparoscopic protectomies. A comeback of P-T has also been observed as an option with deferred anastomosis, to allow and protect a coloanal anastomosis in situations at greater risk of dehiscence, avoiding a temporary faecal diversion.
After reviewing the most significant aspects of classic techniques of P-T, we report our experience with transanal laparoscopic P-T for distal rectal cancer, presenting a new, modified P-T with deferred anastomosis aimed at improving defecatory compliance.
Patients and methods
Between January 2008 and June 2011 we operated in 258 rectal cancers (0–14 cm from the anal verge), 62.79% of which by laparoscopic access (VL), with 218 restorative procedures (84.49%). The coloanal anastomoses (CAA) were globally 68 (26.35%), of which 48 in VL procedures (70.58%). In 27 of these CAAs we utilised the P-T procedure, with immediate CAA (I-CAA) in 11 cases (all VL) and delayed CAA (D-CAA) in 16 (2 VL), by selective indications. All CAAs were manually fashioned; 6 D-CAA had the addition of a transverse coloplasty. Site of tumor was the lower rectum in 24 patients, with 21 patients receiving preoperative chemoradiation.
Results
There was no operative mortality. Early morbidity: D-CAA: 3 pelvic abscesses with stoma formation. I-CAA: 1 intraoperative re-resection and coloanal anastomosis with stoma formation for defective distal vascular supply. Late morbidity: anastomotic stenosis in 5/12 I-CAA and 4/14 D-CAA controlled by mechanical dilation. Function: 4/7 D-CAA and 4/6 I-CAA nearly complete functional recovery (Kirwan’s 1 or 2).
Conclusion
There are selective indications to P-T, when resection and anastomosis is not feasible in one step, or also as a primary restorative option in elective cases when a covering stoma is refused or dangerous.
PMCID: PMC3926465  PMID: 24342154
Pull-through; Laparoscopic; Transanal; Rectal cancer; Delayed coloanal anastomosis; Sphincter function
19.  Transanal Endoscopic Video-Assisted Excision: Application of Single-Port Access 
Transanal endoscopic video-assisted excision of benign and malignant rectal lesions with pneumorectal distension appears to optimize the visual field and avert several of the pitfalls commonly associated with transanal endoscopic microsurgery.
Background:
Transanal endoscopic microsurgery is a safe and efficacious surgical approach for local excision of benign adenomas and early-stage rectal cancer. However, utilization of the technique has been limited due to the unavailability of high-priced specialized instrumentation at many institutions and the technically demanding training required. To avoid these obstacles, we have explored an alternative approach called Transanal Endoscopic Video-Assisted excision, which combines the merits of single-port access and local transanal excision.
Methods:
A disposable single-incision port is inserted into the anal canal for transanal access. The port contains 3 cannulae for introducing instrumentation into the rectal lumen, and a supplementary cannula for carbon dioxide insufflation. Pneumorectum results in rectal distention and optimizes the visual field during the procedure. Standard laparoscopic instrumentation is utilized for visualization and transanal excision of rectal pathologies.
Conclusions:
Transanal endoscopic video-assisted excision is an innovative approach to local excision of benign and malignant rectal lesions. The approach averts several of the pitfalls commonly experienced with transanal endoscopic microsurgery. Continued investigation and development of this novel modality will be important in establishing its role in minimally invasive surgery.
doi:10.4293/108680810X12924466009005
PMCID: PMC3134696  PMID: 21902943
Anal canal; Laparoscopy; Microsurgery; Rectal neoplasms
20.  Transanal endoscopic micro-surgery (TEMS) for the management of large or sessile rectal adenomas: a review of the technique and indications 
In this review article the surgical technique of Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEMS) is examined. A number of techniques have been used to treat adenomas of the rectum. The treatment of large adenomas which occupy a large surface of the rectal lumen or adenomas which are flat and grow in a "carpet-like" fashion is particularly challenging. Major rectal surgery carries a risk of morbidity and mortality, particularly in elderly and unfit patients. Although local excision with transanal resection (TAR) and the Kraske sacral operation have been used in the past, during the last twenty years TEMS has become the method of choice for those lesions. TEMS is efficient and minimally invasive. The technique allows the patient to recover rapidly and the incidence of complications is much lower than that of major surgery. In case of recurrence the option of repeat TEMS or major surgery remain available. TEMS has been slow to gain popularity mainly for reasons of cost and steep learning curve but it is now an established procedure and a valuable therapeutic option which is particularly useful for elderly and unfit patients. Gastroenterologists should be aware of the nature and indications of TEMS in order to advise and refer selected patients with rectal adenomas accordingly.
doi:10.1186/1477-7800-3-13
PMCID: PMC1468413  PMID: 16674824
21.  No Treatment versus 24 or 60 Weeks of Antiretroviral Treatment during Primary HIV Infection: The Randomized Primo-SHM Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001196.
In a three-arm randomized trial conducted among adult patients in HIV treatment centers in The Netherlands, Marlous Grijsen and colleagues examine the effects of temporary combination antiretroviral therapy during primary HIV infection.
Background
The objective of this study was to assess the benefit of temporary combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) during primary HIV infection (PHI).
Methods and Findings
Adult patients with laboratory evidence of PHI were recruited in 13 HIV treatment centers in the Netherlands and randomly assigned to receive no treatment or 24 or 60 wk of cART (allocation in a 1∶1∶1 ratio); if therapy was clinically indicated, participants were randomized over the two treatment arms (allocation in a 1∶1 ratio). Primary end points were (1) viral set point, defined as the plasma viral load 36 wk after randomization in the no treatment arm and 36 wk after treatment interruption in the treatment arms, and (2) the total time that patients were off therapy, defined as the time between randomization and start of cART in the no treatment arm, and the time between treatment interruption and restart of cART in the treatment arms. cART was (re)started in case of confirmed CD4 cell count <350 cells/mm3 or symptomatic HIV disease. In total, 173 participants were randomized. The modified intention-to-treat analysis comprised 168 patients: 115 were randomized over the three study arms, and 53 randomized over the two treatment arms. Of the 115 patients randomized over the three study arms, mean viral set point was 4.8 (standard deviation 0.6) log10 copies/ml in the no treatment arm, and 4.0 (1.0) and 4.3 (0.9) log10 copies/ml in the 24- and 60-wk treatment arms (between groups: p<0.001). The median total time off therapy in the no treatment arm was 0.7 (95% CI 0.0–1.8) y compared to 3.0 (1.9–4.2) and 1.8 (0.5–3.0) y in the 24- and 60-wk treatment arms (log rank test, p<0.001). In the adjusted Cox analysis, both 24 wk (hazard ratio 0.42 [95% CI 0.25–0.73]) and 60 wk of early treatment (hazard ratio 0.55 [0.32–0.95]) were associated with time to (re)start of cART.
Conclusions
In this trial, temporary cART during PHI was found to transiently lower the viral set point and defer the restart of cART during chronic HIV infection.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN59497461
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly three million people become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The first stage of HIV infection—primary HIV infection—lasts a few weeks and often goes undetected, although most individuals develop a short, flu-like illness. During this stage of infection, the immune system begins to make antibodies to HIV. The second stage of HIV infection, which lasts many years, also has no major symptoms but, during this stage, HIV slowly destroys immune system cells, including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte. Eventually, the immune system is unable to fight off other infections and patients enter the third phase of HIV infection—symptomatic HIV infection. The final stage—AIDS—is characterized by the occurrence of one or more AIDS-defining conditions, which include severe but unusual infections and several types of cancer. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-positive people died within ten years of infection. Nowadays, although there is still no cure for HIV infection, HIV has become a chronic disease because of the availability of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART; cocktails of several powerful drugs). This means that many HIV-positive people have a near-normal life span.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is currently recommended that people start cART when their CD4 count falls below 350 CD4 cells per cubic milliliter (cells/mm3) of blood, when they develop severe constitutional symptoms such as fever lasting longer than a month, or when they develop an AIDS-defining condition. But could a short course of cART during primary HIV infection be clinically beneficial? Some, but not all, nonrandomized studies have shown that such treatment reduces the viral set point (the stabilized viral load that is reached after the immune system begins to make antibodies to HIV; the viral load is the amount of virus in the blood) and slows the decline of CD4 cell count in patients. In this randomized trial (the Primo-SHM trial), the researchers assess the clinical benefit of temporary cART initiated during primary HIV infection by measuring its effects on the viral set point and on when patients have to restart cART during chronic HIV infection. In a randomized controlled trial, patients are assigned by the play of chance to receive different treatments and then followed to compare the effects of these treatments.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned 168 patients with primary HIV infection to receive no treatment, 24 weeks of cART, or 60 weeks of cART. They measured the viral set point (the viral load in the blood 36 weeks after randomization in the no treatment arm and 36 weeks after cART interruption in the treatment arms) and determined the time off therapy (the time between randomization and the start of cART in the no treatment arm, and the time between treatment interruption and restart of cART in the treatment arms) for each patient. cART was (re)started following two consecutive CD4 counts below 350 cells/mm3 or when symptomatic HIV disease developed. The average viral set point was lower in the patients who received early cART than in those who had no treatment. Moreover, on average, the patients in the no treatment arm started cART 0.7 years after randomization whereas those in the 24- and 60-week treatment arms restarted cART after 3.0 and 1.8 years, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference between the 24-week and 60-week treatment arms in time off therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that temporary cART during primary HIV infection can transiently lower the viral set point and can delay the need to restart cART during chromic HIV infection. They also suggest that 24 weeks of cART during primary HIV is as effective as 60 weeks of treatment. These findings need to be confirmed in other settings, and follow-up studies are needed to evaluate the long-term benefits of early temporary cART, but given the short time between cART interruption and treatment restart, the researchers suggest that not interrupting early cART, but instead continuing it for life, should be considered. However, they add, because patients are often physically and emotionally distressed at this stage of HIV infection, adherence to cART during primary HIV infection may be suboptimal, and so patients with primary HIV infection should be advised to start cART only when they feel ready to start treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001196.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on HIV infection and AIDS, including information on the clinical progression of HIV infection
NAM/aidsmap provides information about HIV/AIDS, including a factsheet on primary infection
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV treatment and care and on the stages of HIV infection (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization's 2010 antiretroviral therapy guidelines provide recommendations on when to initiate cART
Information about Primo-SHM is available
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001196
PMCID: PMC3313945  PMID: 22479156
22.  Long-term results from a randomized phase II trial of neoadjuvant combined-modality therapy for locally advanced rectal cancer 
Background
This study evaluated the effectiveness and safety of preoperative chemoradiotherapy with capecitabine in patients with locally advanced resectable rectal cancer. This report summarizes the results of the phase II study together with long-term (5-year) follow-up.
Methods
Between June 2004 and January 2005, 57 patients with operable, clinical stage II-III adenocarcinoma of the rectum entered the study. Radiation dose was 45 Gy delivered as 25 fractions of 1.8 Gy. Concurrent chemotherapy with oral capecitabine 825 mg/m2 twice daily was administered during radiotherapy and at weekends. Surgery was scheduled 6 weeks after the completion of the chemoradiotherapy. Patients received four cycles of postoperative chemotherapy comprising either capecitabine 1250 mg/m2 bid days 1-14 every 3 weeks or bolus i.v. 5-fluorouracil 425 mg/m2/day and leucovorin 20 mg/m2/day days 1-5 every 4 weeks (choice was at the oncologist's discretion). Study endpoints included complete pathological remission, proportion of R0 resections and sphincter-sparing procedures, toxicity, survival parameters and long-term (5-year) rectal and urogenital morbidity assessment.
Results
One patient died after receiving 27 Gy because of a pulmonary embolism. Fifty-six patients completed radiochemotherapy and had surgery. Median follow-up time was 62 months. No patients were lost to follow-up. R0 resection was achieved in 55 patients. A complete pathological response was observed in 5 patients (9.1%); T-, N- and overall downstaging rates were 40%, 52.9% and 49.1%, respectively. The 5-year overall survival rate, recurrence-free survival, and local control was 61.4% (95% CI: 48.9-73.9%), 52.4% (95% CI: 39.3-65.5%), and 87.4% (95% CI: 75.0-99.8%), respectively. In 5 patients local relapse has occurred; dissemination was observed in 19 patients and secondary malignancies have occurred in 2 patients. The most frequent side-effect of the preoperative combined therapy was dermatitis (grade 3 in 19 patients). The proportion of patients with severe late (SOMA grade 3 and 4) rectal, bladder and sexual toxicity was 40%, 19.2% and 51.7%, respectively.
Conclusions
This study confirms data from other non-randomised studies that capecitabine-based preoperative chemoradiation is a feasible treatment option for locally advanced rectal cancer, with positive 5-year overall survival, recurrence-free survival, and local control rates.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-5-88
PMCID: PMC2955594  PMID: 20920276
23.  A Reproducible Ex Vivo Model for Transanal Minimally Invasive Surgery 
The authors conclude that transanal laparoendoscopic procedures to excise rectal tumors can be successfully reproduced in an ex vivo porcine anorectal model.
Background:
Rectal tumors can be excised through a number of minimally invasive transanal techniques including transanal excision, transanal endoscopic microsurgery, and transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS). Specialty training is often required to master the nuances of these approaches. This study aimed to create a reproducible transanal excision training model that is suited for laparoendoscopic techniques.
Methods:
Frozen porcine rectum and anus with intact perianal skin were commercially obtained. Thawed specimens were then cut to approximately 20 cm in length. The proximal end of the rectum was then everted and suction applied to the mucosa to create pseudopolyps of various sizes (sessile and pedunculated). Larger pedunculated lesions were made by tying the base of the pseudopolyps with 5–0 monofilament sutures to gather more tissue. Methylene blue dye was injected submucosally into the lesions to simulate tattoos. The proximal rectum was then closed with sutures. The model was suspended in a trainer box by clamping the distal end in a ringed clamp and the proximal end to the box. Transanal excisions using TAMIS were then performed. The procedures were done by trained community colorectal surgeons attending courses on transanal minimally invasive surgery.
Results:
Both partial- and full-thickness excisions of sessile and pedunculated rectal lesions were successfully performed during simulated TAMIS by trained community surgeons learning this laparoendoscopic technique.
Conclusion:
Transanal laparoendoscopic procedures to excise rectal tumors can be successfully and reproducibly performed in an ex vivo porcine anorectal model.
doi:10.4293/108680813X13693422518911
PMCID: PMC3939344  PMID: 24680145
Rectal neoplasm; Rectal surgery specialty; Minimally invasive surgical procedures; Colon and rectal surgery specialty; Animal model
24.  Outcomes in Patients Treated by Laparoscopic Resection of Rectal Carcinoma After Neoadjuvant Therapy for Rectal Cancer 
Objective:
We analyzed the effect of neoadjuvant chemoradiation on feasibility and outcomes in rectal cancer patients undergoing laparoscopic resection of the rectum.
Methods:
This was a retrospective analysis of a consecutive series of laparoscopic resections for rectal cancer from 1998 to 2004 (N=60).
Results:
Eight patients received preoperative chemoradiation therapy (neoadjuvant group) for rectal cancer and 52 patients did not (primary surgical group). The conversion rate was higher in the neoadjuvant group, but this did not reach statistical significance (3/8, 37% in the neoadjuvant group vs. 7/52, 13% in the primary surgical group, P=0.12). Operative time was longer in the neoadjuvant group (170±60 vs 228±70 min, P=0.03). Complication rates (3/52, 5.7% in the primary surgical vs. 0% in the neoadjuvant group, P=1.0), and a median number of resected lymph nodes (14.5 in the primary surgical vs. 16.0 in the neoadjuvant group, P=0.81) were similar between groups.
Conclusion:
Laparoscopic resection of rectal cancer in patients after preoperative chemoradiation treatment seems to be associated with a higher conversion rate and a longer duration of surgery. No change in mortality and morbidity was detected. We encourage further investigation of laparoscopic rectal surgery for treatment of rectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3015728  PMID: 17761081
Rectal cancer; Laparoscopic resection; Neoadjuvant chemoradiation
25.  Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging for predicting the response of rectal cancer to neoadjuvant concurrent chemoradiation 
AIM: To evaluate the clinical value of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) in predicting the response of rectal cancer to neoadjuvant chemoradiation.
METHODS: This prospective study was approved by our institutional review board, and informed consent was obtained from each patient. Fifteen patients (median age 56 years) with locally advanced rectal cancer were treated in our hospital from June 2006 to December 2007. All patients were stage IIIB-C according to the results of MRI and endorectal ultrasound examinations. All patients underwent pelvic irradiation with 45 Gy/25 fx per 35 days. The concurrent chemotherapy regimen consisted of capecitabine 625 mg/m2, bid (Monday-Friday), and oxaliplatin 50 mg/m2, weekly. The patients underwent surgery 5-8 wk after the completion of neoadjuvant therapy. T downstaging was defined as the downstaging of the tumor from cT3 to ypT0-2 or from cT4 to ypT0-3. Good regression was defined as TRG 3-4, and poor regression was defined as TRG 0-2. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images were obtained prior to and weekly during the course of neoadjuvant chemoradiation, and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values were calculated from the acquired tumor images.
RESULTS: Comparison with the mean pretreatment tumor ADC revealed an increase in the mean tumor ADC during the course of neoadjuvant chemoradiation, especially at the 2nd week (P = 0.004). We found a strong negative correlation between the mean pretreatment tumor ADC and tumor regression after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (P = 0.021). In the T downstage and tumor regression groups, we found a significant increase in the mean ADC at the 2nd week of neoadjuvant therapy (P = 0.011; 0.004).
CONCLUSION: DW-MRI might be a valuable clinical tool to help predict or assess the response of rectal cancer to neoadjuvant chemoradiation at an early timepoint.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i33.5520
PMCID: PMC3761106  PMID: 24023496
Locally advanced rectal cancer; Neoadjuvant chemoradiation; Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging; Apparent diffusion coefficient

Results 1-25 (1182893)