Colorectal cancers exhibit a high level of cyclooxygenase‐2 (COX‐2) expression with strong preclinical rationale for improved clinical outcomes with COX‐2 inhibition. Celecoxib is a COX‐2 inhibitor and we have shown that it can be safely combined with capecitabine and oxaliplatin as part of neoadjuvant treatment with radiation therapy (RT) in rectal cancer.There was a significant improvement in skin toxicity with this combination as compared with historical data. Considering the field has moved on to single‐agent capecitabine, we believe future trials with capecitabine and celecoxib hold potential.Background.Improved survival is seen among patients with rectal cancer who achieve pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant therapy. Cyclooxygenase‐2 (COX‐2) expression is increased in gastrointestinal malignancies and it may serve as a target to enhance pathologic response. A trial combining chemoradiation and COX‐2 inhibition was conducted to evaluate the pCR rate, surgical outcomes, survival, and treatment toxicity.Methods.Patients with resectable (T3‐4, N1‐2) rectal cancer within 12 cm of the anal verge were included in this phase II clinical trial. The neoadjuvant treatment consisted of capecitabine 850 mg/m2 b.i.d. Monday through Friday for 5 weeks, weekly oxaliplatin 50 mg/m2 intravenous (IV), celecoxib 200 mg b.i.d. daily, along with concurrent 45 gray radiation therapy in 25 fractions.Results.Thirty‐two patients were included in the final analysis. The primary endpoint was pCR: 31% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 16%–50%). Secondary endpoints were surgical downstaging (SD): 75% (95% CI: 57%–89%) and sphincter‐sparing surgery (SSS): 56% (95% CI: 38%–74%). Common grade >3 toxicities were diarrhea and abnormal liver function tests (9% each). Grade 0 and 1 toxicities included radiation dermatitis (59% and 34%, respectively) and proctitis (63% and 28%, respectively). At 3 years, disease‐free survival and overall survival (OS) were 84% (95% CI: 65%–93%) and 94% (95% CI: 77%–98%), respectively.Conclusion.Chemoradiation with celecoxib in rectal cancer was well tolerated and demonstrated high rates of pCR, SD, and SSS. Improvement in skin toxicity (34% grade 1 and no grade 3/4) as compared with historical results (43%–78% grade 3/4) seems to be a significant improvement with addition of celecoxib to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Phase II Trial Using a Combination of Oxaliplatin, Capecitabine, and Celecoxib with Concurrent Radiation for Newly Diagnosed Resectable Rectal Cancer