Volume 11 Issue 162
Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 24-Jun-2009 
Next Update - 14:00 UC 08:00 EST 25-Jun-2009

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
Vidyya.
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Standard treatment for anal cancer confirmed

(24 June 2009: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- The largest clinical study of patients with anal cancer has found that the current standard treatment should not be changed. In addition, patients in the study did not benefit from maintenance chemotherapy that was designed to prevent a recurrence, according to the ACT II study, a phase III, randomized trial involving 940 patients.

Most of the 5,000 patients diagnosed with anal cancer in the United States each year have the squamous cell type, which often responds to radiation therapy and chemotherapy. For a decade, the treatment for anal cancer has been radiation plus 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and mitomycin-C chemotherapy. In this trial, British researchers asked whether replacing mitomycin-C with cisplatin could improve results for patients, but the answer was no. Furthermore, patients did not benefit from maintenance chemotherapy with cisplatin and 5-FU.

Overall, however, the patients had very good results relative to the international trials published to date, noted Dr. Roger James of the Maidstone Hospital in Kent, who presented the findings at the recent ASCO annual meeting. At 6 months, 95 percent of patients in both groups had all signs of cancer disappear, and at 3 years, nearly 85 percent of the patients in the trial were alive.

Cisplatin was evaluated because it is commonly used to treat other squamous cell cancers, the researchers said, noting that it is not as convenient to deliver and has different toxicities than mitomycin-C chemotherapy. Future trials will likely ask whether certain patients might benefit from other forms of maintenance therapy.

Return to Vidyya Medical News Service for 24 June 2009

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