According to new research chemotherapy after surgery may not be better than surgery alone in the long run for colon cancer patients. However, researchers say, the study looked at chemotherapy drugs that are no longer used, so new chemotherapy regimens may be better.
In 1977, a project looking at the benefits of adding chemotherapy after surgery was initiated. More than 1,000 patients with colon cancer who underwent surgery were either given no further treatment, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
In 1988, researchers reported patients with colon cancer who had surgery and chemotherapy had a better five-year disease-free and overall survival than patients who had surgery alone. The former group had a better survival rate but not disease-free rate. Researchers reviewed the cases from the same trial five years later. This new research finds the benefits seen at the five-year mark no longer exist after 10 years. However, the three chemotherapy drugs that were used during this study are no longer used for colon cancer patients.
Thus researchers say because the study focuses on drugs no longer used for cancer, there is a need for further research and they suggest the use of a three-year point and five-year point to compare treatments instead of five and 10 years, saying this could allow for a more timely completion of trials .