According to recent results published in the BritishJournal of Cancer, the addition of the chemotherapy agent Eloxatin (oxaliplatin) to standard chemotherapy and radiation therapy as initial treatment in locally advanced rectal cancer contributes to promising rates of successful surgical removal of cancer.

Rectal cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells arise from the cells of the rectum. The rectum is part of the digestive system and comprises the final 6 inches of the large intestine.

Current treatments for rectal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Some of the factors influencing the choice of treatment include the risk of recurrence, the extent of the cancer, the general health of the patient and whether or not the cancer has recurred after previous treatment.

Locally advanced rectal cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the rectum to nearby lymph nodes and tissues. Many cancers at this stage are considered “unresectable”, meaning they cannot be entirely removed with surgery. However, there has been progress in the administration of concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy prior to surgery to reduce the size of the cancer to make surgery feasible.

The usual chemotherapy treatment is the combination of 5-FU and leucovorin. More recently, Eloxatin has emerged as an active agent for the treatment of colorectal cancers. Eloxatin has been previously shown to increase the anti-tumor activity of the drug 5FU, as well as improving the patient’s sensitivity to radiation. Eloxatin is commonly used for the treatment of advanced colon cancer and is approved for the treatment of advanced colon and rectal cancer. It is still being evaluated in both diseases to determine optimal scheduling.

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Researchers affiliated with the Colorectal Clinical Oncology Group (CCOG) recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the addition of Eloxatin to 5-FU/leucovorin and radiation therapy as initial treatment in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. This trial included 32 patients who were initially diagnosed as having unresectable cancer. Following treatment with chemotherapy and radiation, 28 patients were able to undergo the surgical removal of their cancer; 81% of these patients had no signs of cancer cells at the margins of the surgical specimen. Using the optimal dose established during this trial, treatment was generally well tolerated.

The researchers concluded that these results add additional evidence that the addition of Eloxatin to 5-FU and radiation therapy as initial treatment in locally advanced, unresectable rectal cancer appears to provide promising anticancer activity and to allow for the surgical removal of cancer in the majority of patients. Patients diagnosed with rectal cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment including Eloxatin.

Reference: Sebag-Montefiore D, Glynne-Jones R, Meadows H, Maughan T. A phase I/II study of oxaliplatin when added to 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin and pelvic radiation in locally advanced rectal cancer: a Colorectal Clinical Oncology Group (CCOG) study. British Journal of Cancer. 2005; 93: 993-998.

Related News:Addition of Chemotherapy to Pre-Operative Radiation Improves Responses in Rectal Cancer

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