Previous studies have shown that not completing chemotherapy regimens for breast cancer is associated with shorter survival. This is the first study to look at a link between mortality rates from colon cancer and treatment adherence.
"The intuitive thinking is that if you complete most of a treatment regimen, you should get most of the treatment benefit. But these findings are significant because they indicate that completing treatment is as critical for colon cancer as it is for breast cancer and we need to do better to ensure that patients who can, complete treatment as intended," said Alfred I. Neugut, M.D., Ph.D., who led the study along with Dawn L. Hershman, M.D., M.S.
The study will be published in the May 20, 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (published online April 17, 2006).
The research team used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database to identify stage III colon cancer patients who were at least 65 years of age or older, and who received one to seven months of fluorouracil (FU)-based adjuvant chemotherapy treatment.
Among the 1,579 patients who survived eight months or longer, the 1,091 (69.1 percent) who underwent five to seven months of treatment survived nearly twice as long as the 488 (30.9 percent) who received only one to four months of treatment. Patients who were older, unmarried and had comorbid conditions, were more likely to
Contact: Elizabeth Streich
Columbia University Medical Center