"Different stages of disease are different biologically, and need to be treated differently," Sinicrope said.
NorthShore's Obel said researchers need a better understanding of the biology of earlier-stage colon cancer, to develop therapies specifically for it. On the other hand, existing therapies are pretty good: "Many of our patients are cured," Obel said.
That's especially true with stage 2 colon cancer, which can often be treated with surgery alone, Obel noted.
She added that the current study is "a very good example of why we need rigorous clinical trials."
"What if doctors just said, 'Well, [Avastin] works for metastatic cancer,' and decided to give it to patients with early-stage disease?" Obel said. "This is an expensive drug that causes side effects, and before you give it, you better know that it's effective."
Learn more about colon cancer treatment from the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Carmen Allegra, M.D., chief, division of hematology and oncology, University of Florida, Gainesville; Frank Sinicrope, M.D., professor, medicine and oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Jennifer Obel, M.D., medical oncologist, NorthShore University Health System, Illinois; Dec. 10, 2012, Journal of Clinical Oncology
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