A trial looking at surgery following treatment for rectal cancer (STARRCAT)

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Rectal cancer





This trial looked at the best time to have surgery after radiotherapy for people with cancer of the back passage (rectal cancer).

More about this trial

Doctors usually treat rectal cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy together. This is called chemoradiation. You then have surgery to remove the cancer. This is standard treatment Open a glossary item.

Doctors know that following chemoradiation there may be swelling in the tissues around the cancer. This can make the surgery more difficult.

In the UK, people usually have surgery between 4 and 12 weeks after chemoradiation. When this trial was done, doctors didn’t know the best time for surgery and needed to do more research.

In this trial people had surgery 6 or 12 weeks after chemoradiation.

The aims of this trial were to

  • Find out if there was any difference in the difficulty of the operation at 6 or 12 weeks after chemoradiation
  • Learn more about the side effects

Summary of results

The trial team found that there wasn’t a difference in the difficulty of the operation at 6 weeks or 12 weeks after chemoradiation. 

The study team had aimed to recruit 50 people but it was difficult to find enough people to take part. 31 people took part in the trial. 

Of those, 

  • 15 had surgery 6 weeks after chemoradiation
  • 16 had surgery 12 weeks after chemoradiation

When the researchers looked at the results, they found that there was no significant difference between the 2 groups in

  • How difficult the surgery was
  • How accurate the surgeon had been in removing all the cancer
  • How long people stayed in hospital after surgery
  • Problems people had after surgery

The trial team found no difference between the 2 groups in how difficult surgery was in this small trial. They concluded that it was suitable and safe to operate at either 6 or 12 weeks after chemoradiotherapy. 

We have based this summary on information from the research team.  As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Mr Nader Francis

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme
Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 9723

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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