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Hope for patients with advanced bowel cancer

This release is also available in French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

For patients with bowel cancer that has spread to other organs despite treatment there has been little hope until now. However, early results of trials in North America of a chemotherapy drug called oxaliplatin, given in conjunction with two standard drugs, 5-FU and leucovorin, delay tumour progression by 70% compared with the control component of the study. There is also a significant improvement in the symptoms these patients experience.

Dr Mace Rothenberg from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Centre, Nashville, USA, lead a multi-centre trial in the USA involving 821 patients with advanced bowel or colorectal - cancer to compare three different treatment strategies: 5-FU and leucovorin, oxaliplatin alone, or a combination of the drugs.

The delay in the progression and the shrinkage of the tumour lasted for a minimum of four weeks. "Both the delay in time to tumour progression and the reduction in tumour-related symptoms are very encouraging," said Dr Rothenberg, speaking at the European Society of Medical Oncology Congress in Nice, France, today (21 October 2002). "We found that patients suffered less from pain, weight loss and fatigue with the combination therapy."

The interim data from 463 patients were so promising that the US Food and Drug Administration gave its approval in August this year for oxaliplatin to be given to patients with advanced colorectal cancer that had progressed following first-line treatment. In Europe, however, oxaliplatin has been available since 1996. The drug is manufactured by Sanofi-Synthelabo in France.

Oxaliplatin can cause nausea, diarrhoea,
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Contact: Gracemarie Bricalli
gracemarie@esmo.org
0041-91-973-1911
European Society for Medical Oncology
21-Oct-2002


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