A new chemotherapy regimen prolongs survival rates for patients
with metastatic (advanced) colorectal cancer, according to an
international study published today in
The New England Journal of Medicine.
In the study, researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
randomized patients to three treatments and found that those
patients who received the Camptosar combination therapy had
significantly prolonged survival and delayed time to tumor
progression. The first-line treatment consists of Camptosar
(irinotecan hydrochloride injection) along with the standard
treatment, 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin (5-FU/LV).
"All of the patients in the irinotecan 5-FU/leucovorin arm
seemed to show some ability to benefit," said Dr. Leonard B.
Saltz, lead author of the study, which was conducted at
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "Whether
(the patients) were older or younger, male or female, the
fittest patients or a little bit sicker, we saw some evidence
of benefit in all the subgroups we looked at."
Camptosar, the first new treatment approved for metastatic
colorectal cancer in 40 years, acts as a potent inhibitor of
topoisomerase I, an enzyme that is essential for cancer cell
division. Inhibition of this enzyme's activity results in DNA
damage and tumor cell death.
The Camptosar combination therapy was developed by Dr. Leonard
B. Saltz and colleagues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center in New York.
In the next step if the study, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will attempt to determine
whether Camptosar can effectively treat earlier stages of
colorectal cancer immediately following surgery. The NCI is
looking for patients throughout the country with earlier stage
colon cancer to participate in the study.
Colorectal cancer is
the second leading cause of cancer death, with an estimated
56,300 men and women expected to die this year in the United