Radiation before surgery keeps colorectal cancer from returning

Oct 25, 2010

Patients with cancer found at the end of the large intestine called the rectum who receive one week of radiation therapy before surgery have a 50 percent reduction in chance that their cancer will return after 10 years, according to a large, randomized study presented at the plenary session, November 1, 2010, at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

"We believe that this short course of radiation will open a new window of opportunities in the treatment of rectal cancer," Corrie Marijnen M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Leiden University Medical Center, in Leiden, Netherlands, said.

Cancer coming back to its original tumor site and surrounding area, called a local recurrence, is a major problem in the treatment of rectal cancer patients. The mesorectum is the fatty tissue near the rectum that contains and lymph nodes. When rectal cancer recurs, it is often in these lymph nodes. Therefore, a better surgical technique called total mesorectal excision (TME) was introduced worldwide. It removes the entire mesorectum and and is most successful when all of the tumor and surrounding area is removed and no remain. In this study, it was demonstrated that preoperative is still beneficial in these optimally operated patients.

The study involved more than 1,800 rectal cancer patients who were eligible for total mesorectal excision surgery and whose disease had spread outside of its original location but not to other parts of the body. Patients were randomly selected to receive short-term radiation before surgery or surgery alone. Researchers wanted to examine the effectiveness of adding radiation to TME surgery to control local recurrence among these patients.

Findings show that patients who underwent radiation before surgery had a significant decrease (6 percent) in their chances of local recurrence after 10 years of treatment, compared to those who had did not have radiation (11 percent).

Dr. Marijnen said, "Our study suggests that tumors in the middle rectum and stage III rectal cancer patients will most greatly benefit from receiving radiation before surgery."

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

Provided by American Society for Radiation Oncology

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Radiation after surgery reduces chance of melanoma returning

Nov 02, 2009

High-risk melanoma patients who are treated with radiation after surgery have a significantly lower risk of their cancer returning to the lymph nodes (19 percent), compared to those patients who do not have radiation therapy ...

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...