Background/objective: Some locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (CRT) prior to total mesorectal excision (TME) show early recurrence with a short disease-free interval. This is unacceptable for patients and their families, necessitating re-evaluation of the treatment process. We aimed to evaluate the risk factors and prognostic impact of early recurrence in patients who received preoperative CRT (pCRT) followed by TME for LARC. Methods: Of 714 patients who underwent curative resection after pCRT for LARC from January 2010 to December 2016, we included 139 who developed recurrence after resection. Patients were divided into an early recurrence group, diagnosed <12 months after primary surgery, and a late recurrence group, diagnosed ≥12 months after primary surgery. Results: Forty-nine patients experienced early recurrence and 90 experienced late recurrence. Multivariate analysis revealed that tumor regression grade (hazard ratio [HR] 2.962, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.434–6.119, P = 0.003) and positive ypN stage (HR 2.110, 95% CI 1.144–3.892, P = 0.017) correlated with early recurrence. The 5-year overall survival rates for early and late recurrences were not significantly different (P = 0.121). Conclusion: In patients with early recurrence after pCRT followed by TME, tumor regression grade and ypN stage positivity were independent predictors of the early recurrence.
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