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Back To Vidyya New Colorectal Chemotherapy Regimen Improves Patient Survival Rates

Results Of Sloan-Kettering Study Appear In Today's NEJM

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 States alone.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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