According to results recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the chemotherapy combination consisting of capecitabine and oxaliplatin appears to produce anti-cancer responses in advanced colon and rectal cancer.
The colon and rectum are important parts of the body’s digestive system. The colon consists of the last few feet of the large intestine and the rectum consists of the last 8 to 10 inches of the large intestine. Advanced or metastatic colon or rectal cancer refers to cancer that has spread from its site of origin to distant sites in the body. Treatment for colon and rectal cancer is often similar, typically consisting of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and/or biologic therapy. Patients whose cancer cannot be removed surgically, due to the extent of the cancer, often undergo treatment to prolong survival and relieve symptoms caused by the cancer.
Researchers have been investigating new chemotherapy agents alone or in combination for patients with advanced colon or rectal cancer in order to determine therapeutic regimens that provide optimal long-term outcomes. Oxaliplatin is still in clinical trials in the U.S. and has demonstrated promising anti-cancer activity in the treatment of colon and rectal cancer.
Researchers from Switzerland recently conducted a clinical trial evaluating the combination of capecitabine and oxaliplatin in patients with advanced colon or rectal cancer. In this trial, 43 patients had not received previous therapy and 26 patients had been previously treated for their disease. Anti-cancer response rates following capecitabine/oxaliplatin were 49% for previously untreated patients and 15% for previously treated patients. The average overall survival time was 17.5 months for previously untreated patients and 11.5 months for previously treated patients. The main side effects were diarrhea and neuropathy (loss of sensation), which required the dose of capecitabine to be reduced in 26% of the non-pretreated patients and 45% of the pretreated patients.
The researchers conducting this study concluded that the combination of capecitabine and oxaliplatin appears effective for patients with advanced colon or rectal cancer. Further clinical trials are needed to directly compare this chemotherapy combination to other standard chemotherapy combinations to determine which regimens are superior. Patients with advanced colon or rectal cancer may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of treatment with capecitabine/oxaliplatin or the participation in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients.
Reference: Borner M, Dietrich D, Stupp R, et al. Phase II study of capecitabine and oxaliplatin in first- and second-line treatment of advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2002;20:1759-1766.
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