Chemotherapeutic and biologic agents as radiosensitizers in rectal cancer.
Over the past 25 years, important advances have been made in the management of patients with resectable rectal cancer. Clinical studies have shown the efficacy of combined chemoradiation therapy in enhancing resectability and sphincter preservation rates, decreasing local recurrence, and improving survival of patients with rectal cancer. Although 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) remains the standard chemotherapeutic agent used concurrently with radiation therapy, newer chemotherapeutic agents including capecitabine, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin have also been studied as radiosensitizers in this setting. Novel targeted biologic agents including celecoxib and bevacizumab are being explored in combination with standard chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In this review, we will discuss the mechanism of action and the key clinical studies of each agent as a radiosensitizer.
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