Cancer Combo Extends Life

Colon cancer patients live longer when oxaliplatin added

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Earlier this week, we learned that two medications work better than single drugs in fighting HER-2 positive breast cancer. Now, researchers have found two chemotherapy drugs are better than one for colon cancer.

Advanced colon cancer patients live longer when the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin is added to the standard 5-fluorouracil (5FU) chemo regimen.

"Ask your oncologist about all the chemotherapy agents available."

Adding oxaliplatin extended life in people with Stage III colon cancer in randomized clinical trials. To learn if this held true for the general public, Hanna K. Sanoff, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, hematology and oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and colleagues, compiled and analyzed data from various cancer registries.

Among the databases used was the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry linked to Medicare claims (SEER-Medicare).

Data was reviewed for individuals diagnosed with stage III colon cancer who were 75 years old or younger and had started chemotherapy within 120 days of surgery.

Researchers compared the life spans of people who had been treated with standard chemotherapy and those who had received the combined therapy.

Adding oxaliplatin to standard chemotherapy helped people with colon cancer live longer. People of varying ages and racial backgrounds lived longer, as did individuals who had other health conditions in addition to the cancer.

"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 authors wrote in the study.

Researchers say more work is needed to determine if the combined therapy works well for higher risk patients.

This study was published January 20, 2012  in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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Review Date: 
January 20, 2012
Last Updated:
January 21, 2012