Chemotherapy before surgery for colon cancer may improve survival, study shows

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 06 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7487
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Chemotherapy before surgery for locally advanced colon cancer significantly shrinks tumours, making them easier to remove and potentially reducing the risk of recurrence, shows a pilot study.1

Treating patients with other cancers of the digestive system with chemotherapy for several weeks before surgery is already standard practice, after trials showed that this prolonged survival. But the strategy had been considered too risky for colon cancer, because if tumour cells failed to respond and continued growing this could cause a potentially fatal blockage of the colon. It has also been difficult to determine which patients might benefit from preoperative chemotherapy.

The UK researchers randomly assigned 150 patients with locally advanced colorectal tumours to preoperative chemotherapy with three cycles of oxaliplatin, l-folinic acid, and fluorouracil …

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