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: DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

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

DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

23 hours ago

Cancer DNA circulating in the bloodstream of lung cancer patients can provide doctors with vital mutation information that can help optimise treatment when tumour tissue is not available, an international group of researchers ...

Tumors prefer the easy way out

Apr 17, 2015

Tumor cells become lethal when they spread. Blocking this process can be a powerful way to stop cancer. Historically, scientists thought that tumor cells migrated by brute force, actively pushing through whatever ...

Brain tumors may be new targets of Ebola-like virus

Apr 17, 2015

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers—portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.