Nordic collaboration gives new insights into adjuvant chemotherapy

Denmark, Copenhagen: A major clinical collaboration by Scandinavian cancer specialists has shown that patients with advanced colon cancer could well gain a small but worthwhile improvement in five-year overall survival if they were treated with chemotherapy as well as surgery provided the drugs were given in optimum conditions and to the most appropriate patients.

An analysis of a set of randomised trials[1] involving patients in Denmark, Norway and Sweden has been able to provide new insights into the effects of chemotherapy in colorectal cancer, ECCO 12 the European Cancer Conference heard today (Thursday 25 September).

Prof. Bengt Glimelius, a professor and consultant at the University Hospital in Uppsala and the University Hospital Karolinska Sjukhuset in Stockholm, explained to a news briefing that by collaborating across borders and carrying out a joint analysis the investigators were able to see how adjuvant therapy was likely to work when used as part of routine care for patients with stage II and III colon and rectal cancer.

The analysis, which constituted the largest clinical study to be presented at the ECCO 12 meeting, demonstrated that among 2,223 patients, the 708 patients with colon cancer stage III had a five-year survival of 49% for those treated by surgery alone, but 56% for those given chemotherapy as well. "Although this difference was not statistically significant, it has helped to highlight the need for chemotherapy to be given under optimum conditions and has provided vital evidence about which are the patients most likely to benefit," he said.

For example, one of the Norwegian contributing trials of 425[2] patients with stage II and III colon and rectum cancer, while showing no overall statistically different survival (68% controls, 72% chemotherapy arm), did show a statistically significant benefit for chemotherapy for patients with stage III colon cancer (48% controls, 65% chemotherap

Contact: Margaret Willson
Federation of European Cancer Societies

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