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Colon Cancer: Tweak in Treatment Timing Saves More Patients
The risk of having colon cancer come back can be reduced by 28% simply by receiving chemotherapy before and after surgery, a solution that doesn’t imply additional costs and can be applied to the widest group of patients possible.
“Timing is everything when it comes to treating colon cancer,” states trial co-leader Matthew Seymour from the University of Leeds. “The simple act of bringing forward chemotherapy, giving it before instead of after surgery, delivers some remarkable results.”
The FOxTROT trial funded by Cancer Research UK included 1,000 patients with surgically treatable colon cancer, meaning that it hadn’t spread beyond nearby tissues and lymph nodes. Close to 700 patients received 6 weeks of chemo before the surgery and 18 weeks after. The rest received all 24 weeks of chemo post-surgery. A follow-up two years after the trial showed that the risk of recurrence was 28% lower among patients who had their surgery flanked by chemo. The survival rate for patients whose colon cancer is caught and treated before it spread is 90%, but a recurrence happens for 30 to 40% of patients when they undergo the standard treatment – surgery to remove the affected area of the bowel followed by chemo or radiation therapy. The suggested approach doesn’t require additional treatment or the approval of new drugs, only a rethinking of the already-established procedure.