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White House Press Secretary to Battle Second Round of Colon Cancer

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has bad news. His colon cancer, which was treated two years back, has sadly resurfaced//.

Snow was treated with chemotherapy in 2005 after doctors removed his colon in order to prevent satellite growths of tumors that could be metastatic. Yet after recent surgery to remove a growth in the pelvic area, doctors discovered additional tumors in his liver.

Though patients often can be cured of their original tumors, cancers that grow back are much harder to eradicate, says Leonard Saltz, a colorectal cancer expert at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Most relapses occur within 2? to 3 years after the original tumor. If a tumor doesn't return within five years, many doctors consider the patient cured.

Says Dr. Raymond DuBois of MD Anderson Cancer Center that this relapse is not an unusual thing.

"Any time a patient comes in with a big tumor, we always worry about micrometastatic lesions somewhere else in the body," DuBois said.

"Once you have a tumor anywhere in the body, there is a chance that little seeds of metastasis may crop up later."

The good news is that more effective and better-tolerated drugs are now available. Such drugs help by blocking the tumor’s ability to garner growth factors that enable its survival.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved five new colorectal cancer drugs since 1996: Camptosar, Eloxatin, Erbitux, Avastin and Vectibix.

In order to test for recurrent growths, vital to the prevention of colon cancer relapse, doctors rely on PET and MRI scans.

Yet the drawback of PET scans is that they rely on the tumors’ voracious appetite for glucose. Hence, only tumors big enough, and thereby at a later stage, can be detected.

Technology is fortunately on to develop tests that detect certain biomarkers; proteins believed to be released by such tumors, in the blood. In such case, a
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