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Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 02:40 GMT
Double treatment hope for cancer patients

op Combined treatment improves survival rates after surgery


Combining two therapies gives people with colorectal cancer a greater chance of survival, say scientists.

Traditional chemotherapy used with medication delivered through a surgically-implanted pump increased life expectancy in patients who had undergone surgery.

The 156 patients who took part in the study, carried out by oncologists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, had advanced colorectal cancer which had spread to the liver.



Combining these two treatment approaches provides a more effective way to treat colorectal patients
Dr Nancy Kemeny
One group was treated with standard systemic chemotherapy, while the second was also given hepatic arterial infusion therapy, which delivers drugs directly into the arteries that feed the liver using a pump placed in the abdomen.

The researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that this increased two year survival rates and decreased recurrence of tumours.

Previous studies had shown that surgery to remove tumours from the liver offered the best chance of a cure for patients whose colon cancer had spread to the liver, but that would only give patients a 25% chance of not having a recurrence of the disease.

Survived longer

With the combined treatment, 86% of patients survived longer than two years, compared with 72% receiving only systemic chemotherapy.

And 90% of patients given the new treatment had no recurrence of tumours compared with 60% of those using the traditional therapy.

Dr Nancy Kemeny, who led the research, said: "Our results show that combining these two treatment approaches provides a more effective way to treat colorectal patients who have had surgery to remove tumours that have spread to the liver.

"Not only did those patients live longer than those treated with traditional systemic chemotherapy, but they had significantly less recurrence of disease in the liver.

"These results are impressive as this is the first study to show an increase in survival with treatment after surgery to remove metastasis in the liver."

A spokeswoman for the Cancer Research Campaign said: "It sounds promising - individually, they are quite successful, but together they probably have the potential to do even more good."

She added that because neither treatment had serious side effects, they were likely to work well together.

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See also:
08 Dec 99 |  Health
Blood test for colorectal cancer
19 Nov 99 |  Medical notes
Bowel cancer
15 Feb 99 |  Health
Huge variation in cancer survival rates

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