FRIDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Adding oxaliplatin to a standard chemotherapy regimen boosts survival rates for patients with advanced colon cancer, according to a new study that bolsters previous research on the drug by looking at a broader group of patients.
"Physicians and patients should be reassured from our findings that oxaliplatin is associated with marginally but consistently superior survival for patients diagnosed before age 75 years in community settings," the study authors said in a news release.
In past studies, oxaliplatin, as an adjuvant to the established treatment of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), improved survival by up to 23 percent. But the new study looked at a different group of colon cancer patients, who were older, sicker, more racially diverse and had never participated in a controlled clinical study.
The study, led by Dr. Hanna Sanoff, an assistant professor of medicine, hematology and oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, appears in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Colon cancer is one of the world's deadliest diseases, with more than 100,000 Americans diagnosed last year, the researchers noted. Of these, roughly a third had an advanced -- stage 3 -- cancer, for which surgery is the principal treatment.
Surgery alone produces disease-free survival rates of between 15 percent and 50 percent five years following treatment, according to study background information. To improve their chances, patients often also undergo post-surgical chemotherapy.
Up until 2004, the drug 5-FU -- given in combination with leucovorin, which boosts its effects -- was the chemotherapy of choice for colon cancer, sparking a 26 percent drop in death rates compared to patients undergoing surgery alone.
But in 2004, several U.S. National Cancer Institute studies indicated that by adding oxaliplatin to the 5-FU mix, patients could see surviv
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