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Treatment of rectal cancer varies enormously between different European countries
Date:9/24/2011

Sweden it was patients with stage II or III disease, and in Norway patients with stage IV disease, who received it most often."

At present, the researchers are comparing the deaths within 30 days after surgery between countries. "We will be able to compare treatment strategies, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or both, for different stages of disease", said Dr Van den Broek. [2]

"It is clear from our results so far, that different countries in Europe have different guidelines for treating rectal cancer patients. An earlier study has shown that radiotherapy, delivered before surgery, reduces local recurrences of the disease. But, in The Netherlands, we use radiotherapy for almost all stages, while in Denmark, for example, they use a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The differences in treatment do not necessarily cause big differences in survival, and recent research has shown that, although radiotherapy decreases deaths from cancer, it increases deaths due to other causes. So we have to find the right balance between the 'gain and pain' of radiotherapy and between under- and over-treatment. With this study we hope to be able to give an answer to the ongoing discussion about this and it is a first step towards a single guideline that can be used in different countries."

The EURECCA project is looking at a number of cancers in addition to rectal cancer, and Dr Van den Broek says that the researchers are hoping to look at long-term survival as well. "This is just a first step in the process," she concluded.

ECCO president, Professor Michael Baumann, said: "Cancer professionals know well that treatment practice varies widely in Europe. These differences have many reasons, such as regional experience and expertise as well as available infrastructure. To some extent differences in approach may, therefore, be quite appropriate. On the other hand it appears unlikely that all different approaches could be equally effective and equa
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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