Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at surgery following treatment for rectal cancer (STARRCAT)
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
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.
- 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 (
How to join a clinical trial
Mr Nader Francis
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme
Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust