According to new analysis, it is better to give radiation therapy before surgery rather than afterwards. Hitting colon cancer with radiation as well as surgery can reduce the risk of recurrence. Generally the timing of radiotherapy varies when it comes to practice. In Scandinavia and the Netherlands, the therapy is given before surgery while doctors in the UK and the US wait until afterwards.
An analysis of 8000 patients, led by doctors at the University of Birmingham in England, shows that giving radiotherapy reduces the incidence of recurrence of colon cancer. When it was given pre-operatively, the incidence was reduced by half, compared to surgery alone. If given after surgery, the reduction was only a third. Pre-operative radiotherapy also reduced the death rate from cancer. The study suggests that radiotherapy is useful in improving the outcome in colon cancer, and timing is an important factor.