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New treatments offer better survival and fresh challenges in colorectal cancer
Date:8/21/2009

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (August 21, 2009) Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. Fortunately physicians today have an abundance of drug therapies available to improve survival length for more advanced cancer patients. Now the discovery of genetic biomarkers relevant to CRC means that targeted personalised medication is increasingly common.

CRC affects approximately 150,000 patients and leads to over 52,000 deaths every year in the US alone. In the early stages, CRC can often be cured by surgery. It is in the more advanced, palliative cases that the abundance of drug therapies comes into play, according to Mayo Clinic oncologist Axel Grothey, MD. In his paper Medical treatment of advanced colorectal cancer in 2009 published this week in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, Grothey details the interplay of therapies currently on offer.

Oncologists now integrate conventional cytotoxic agents oxaliplatin and irinotecan (which directly fight tumour cells) with treatments such as bevacizumab and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies, cetuximab and panitumumab, as novel targeted agents into standard medical therapy. The result is that median overall survival in metastatic CRC now exceeds two years for the first time.

For decades, standard first-line therapy consisted of the drugs fluorouracil (5-FU) plus leucovorin, which helped just a fifth of patients to survive a median of one year. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the addition of oxaliplatin and irinotecan to the backbone of 5-FU and leucovorin led to dramatic improvement in median survival to nearly 24 months. Most recently, biologic agents such as bevacizumab, cetuximab, and panitumumab, have yielded even better results for many patients.

"It cannot be overemphasized that these significant improvements in outcome of patients with CRC are close
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Contact: Mithu Mukherjee
mithu.mukherjee@sagepub.co.uk
44-207-324-2223
SAGE Publications UK
Source:Eurekalert

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