Chemo BEFORE colon cancer surgery reduces the chance of the disease returning

Chemo BEFORE colon cancer surgery reduces the chance of the disease returning by a quarter, ‘remarkable’ study results

  • Research suggests that chemotherapy should be done before colon cancer surgery
  • Cancer Research UK-funded trial gave patients six weeks of chemotherapy beforehand
  • It found chemo before surgery could cut the chance of cancer returning by a quarter

Chemotherapy before colon cancer surgery can reduce the risk of recurrence by more than a quarter, research shows.

The Cancer Research UK-funded study shows that giving chemotherapy before surgery for early-stage bowel cancer reduces the risk of the disease coming back by 28 percent.

Experts said the ‘remarkable’ findings could change the way people are treated in the early stages of the disease, potentially improving the prognosis for around 5,000 UK patients a year.

Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery to try and catch stray cancer cells that could cause the disease to come back.

Chemotherapy before colon cancer surgery can reduce the chance of recurrence by more than a quarter, study shows (file photo)

Chemotherapy before colon cancer surgery can reduce the chance of recurrence by more than a quarter, study shows (file photo)

Under the new regimen, patients would receive six weeks of chemotherapy before undergoing surgery, followed by another 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

The FOxTROT study, led by the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds, involved 1,053 patients in 85 hospitals in the UK, Denmark and Sweden.

During the study, the first group of patients received six weeks of chemotherapy, followed by surgery, and then 18 weeks of chemotherapy.

The second group underwent normal treatment for colon cancer, which included surgery followed by 24 weeks of chemotherapy.

The findings showed that patients who had chemotherapy before surgery were significantly less likely to see their cancer come back within two years.

Professor Matthew Seymour from the University of Leeds said ‘timing is everything’ when it comes to treating the disease, which is also known as bowel cancer.

He said: ‘The simple act of bringing chemotherapy forward, before rather than after surgery, yields remarkable results.

‘Administering chemotherapy before surgery can prevent cancer recurrence without the need for expensive new drugs or technologies.

“It was especially encouraging to find that patients who had chemotherapy before their surgery had fewer surgical complications.”

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 11 per cent of all new cancer cases with around 42,900 diagnoses each year.

Scientists believe this approach could be applied across the NHS and countries around the world, benefiting hundreds of thousands of patients each year.

Dr. Laura Magill, an associate professor in Birmingham’s clinical trials department, said up to one in three bowel cancer patients will see it recur after surgery, which was ‘too high’.

‘The standard approach has been to give chemotherapy after surgery to eradicate any cancer cells that might have spread before surgery.

‘But our research shows that giving part of that chemotherapy before surgery increases the chance that all cancer cells will be killed.

Under the new regimen, colon cancer patients would receive six weeks of chemotherapy before undergoing surgery, followed by another 18 weeks of chemotherapy (file photo)

Under the new regimen, colon cancer patients would receive six weeks of chemotherapy before undergoing surgery, followed by another 18 weeks of chemotherapy (file photo)

“A growing body of evidence demonstrates the value of preoperative chemotherapy in several other cancers, and we believe our results may change the way we approach colorectal cancer in the clinic.”

Further clinical trials are planned to investigate whether older patients also benefit from chemotherapy before surgery, according to the findings published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

It comes after the Daily Mail teamed up with Cancer Research UK, which launched the Fighting to Beat Children’s Cancer campaign, asking generous readers to dig deep and help turn the tide on cancer.

Genevieve Edwards, from Bowel Cancer UK, said: ‘It is great to see such positive results from this robust study, which we have followed with great interest.

“It’s fantastic news that it has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of the thousands of people who are diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer each year.”

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