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According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the addition of Camptosar® (irinotecan) to 5-fluorouracil (fluorouracil) and leucovorin does not improve outcomes compared to fluorouracil/leucovorin alone in the treatment of Stage III colon cancer.

Stage III colon cancer refers to cancer that has passed through the wall of the colon into the abdominal cavity and invaded any of the local lymph nodes but cannot be detected in other locations in the body. Metastatic colon cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the colon to distant sites in the body. Standard treatment for colon cancer depends upon the stage of disease but may consist of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and/or radiation therapy.

The addition of Camptosar to fluorouracil and leucovorin has demonstrated improvements in outcomes for patients with metastatic colon cancer compared fluorouracil and leucovorin only. However, the addition of Camptosar to fluorouracil/leucovorin in earlier stages of colon cancer is still being evaluated.

Researchers from several medical institutions in the United States recently conducted a clinical trial to further evaluate the effects of the adding Camptosar to fluorouracil/leucovorin for treatment of Stage III colon cancer. This trial included 1,264 patients who were treated with either Camptosar/fluorouracil/leucovorin or fluorouracil/leucovorin and were directly compared.

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  • There were no differences in cancer-free survival or overall survival between the two treatment groups.
  • Side effects, including death associated with side effects, were significantly higher among the group of patients treated with the addition of Camptosar.

The researchers concluded that the addition of Camptosar to fluorouracil/leucovorin does not improve outcomes for Stage III colon cancer. The authors stated that “advances in the treatment of metastatic disease do notnecessarily translate into advances in adjuvant treatment.”

Reference: Saltz L, Niedzwiecki D, Hollis D, et al. Irinotecan fluorouracil plus leucovorin Is not superior to fluorouracil plus leucovorin alone as adjuvant treatment for Stage III colon cancer: Results of CALGB 89803. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2007;25: 3456-3461.

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