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Many patients with advanced cancers get treatments that won't help
Date:6/7/2011

A study of more than 1,000 patients with colon cancer that had spread to distant sites found that one in eight was treated with at least one drug regimen that was not recommended. Those patients were exposed to significant risk without proven benefits, at an estimated costjust for the drugsof more than $2 million.

The study, presented June 7, 2011, by University of Chicago researchers at the American Society for Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in Chicago, focused on three chemotherapy regimens that were not supported by evidence from prior clinical studies or clinical practice guidelines. One treatment was rated "insufficient data to support," one had been "shown to be ineffective," and one was supported by "no data, nor is there a compelling rationale."

"Patients with advanced cancers that do not respond to standard therapies should either be looking for clinical trials, where there is a chance for a benefit, or should have been thinking about shifting toward palliative care," said study author Jonas De Souza, M.D., a hematology/oncology fellow at the University of Chicago. "Patients should not face the risks, discomforts and costs of aggressive and often quite toxic chemotherapy with treatment regimens that did not provide a benefit in previous studies."

Under an agreement with UnitedHealthcare, a health benefits business, the researchers used de-identified medical and pharmaceutical claims data in the collaborative project. They examined claims from 7,642 colon cancer cases treated between January 2007 and June 2010, including 1,041 who developed metastatic disease. Of those 1,041 patients, 140 (13%) received treatments that were not supported by the evidence from clinical studies. Many of them received multiple cycles of non-beneficial chemotherapy.

The researchers focused on three chemotherapy regimens with specific recommendations against their use in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. The r
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Contact: John Easton
John.Easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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