New Research on Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

Last Updated: May 11, 2018

Dr. Hayes discusses new research on chemotherapy for colon cancer from the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Learn more about this research.


Cancer.Net®: Doctor-Approved Patient Information from ASCO®

Global Study Sets New Risk-Based Standard to Personalize Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer After Surgery

ASCO President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO: You know, there are a number of themes in oncology. You've heard about precision medicine and immunotherapy, but 1 that's very important that we've been studying now for decades is, do we need to over-treat people to make sure we give them the right treatment?

And when our field started, that was sort of the approach: make sure you give enough to cure people. And over the last 3 or 4 decades, we've increasingly said, "Maybe we don't need to give that much, but we can still get the same results."

In colon cancer, we've made huge strides in giving people chemotherapy to prevent their cancer from recurring--and just incidentally, if you're diagnosed with colon cancer these days, you have an extraordinary chance of being cured. Which is great news. But it's tough, you have to go through some chemotherapy.

So there were several studies that asked whether, perhaps, giving only 3 cycles of treatment would be as good as what used to be standard, 6 cycles. So each of these trials asked this question, but none of them, frankly, was big enough on their own to really be sure. This is the pool of all those studies together. The Vice President, in the Moonshot--the former Vice President--has urged us to work together, and we do work together, we cooperate.

These are several trials that have all put all their data into 1 computer, spit it back out again, and not for every patient, but for many patients it looks like only getting 3 cycles is every bit as good as getting 6 cycles.

There are some nuances here. Your oncologist will learn that from this meeting and writings afterwards, but it looks like for many many patients with newly diagnosed colon cancer: A. You'll get a really good chance of being cured. B. You need to get the right treatment. And C. The right treatment might not be nearly as bad as it used to be, because it may only be half of what we used to have to give. That's great news. That's what we're trying to do.

[Closing and Credits]

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