Radiation, chemotherapy before surgery controls rectal cancer

October 17, 2005

For patients with rectal cancer, receiving radiation therapy and chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor so it can be more easily removed helps keep the cancer from coming back, according to a study presented October 17, 2005, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 47th Annual Meeting in Denver.

Beginning in 1992, doctors in France enrolled 733 patients suffering from rectal cancer into the study. The patients were split into two groups - the first received radiation alone for five weeks before undergoing surgery to remove the cancer. The second group received chemotherapy in addition to five weeks of radiation therapy prior to surgery.

"The standard treatment for rectal cancer has been radiation therapy alone before surgery, but this is the first randomized study to prove that adding chemotherapy to the treatment helps patients beat their cancer," said Pascale Romestaing, M.D., co-author of the study and a radiation oncologist at CHU Lyon Sud in Lyon, France.

The doctors discovered that while combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy does not significantly increase survival rates, it does improve local tumor control and helps to keep the cancer from returning. The last phase of the trial, from 1999 to 2003, showed that only eight percent of the patients saw their cancer return five years after receiving treatment.

"This treatment should be recommended as the standard for the majority of rectal cancer patients," said Jean-Pierre Gerard, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Centre Antoine-Lacassagne in Nice, France.
-end-
For more information on radiation therapy for colorectal cancer, please visit www.rtanswers.org or call 1-800-986-7876 for a free brochure

If you would like a copy of the abstract, "Preoperative Chemoradiotherapy (CT-RT) Improves Local Control in T3-4 Rectal Cancers: Results of the FFCD 9203 Randomized Trial," or you would like to speak to the presenter of the study, Pascale Romestaing, M.D., please call Beth Bukata or Nick Lashinsky October 16-20 in the ASTRO Press Room at the Colorado Convention Center at 303-228-8454 or 303-228-8455. You may also e-mail them at bethb@astro.org or nickl@astro.org.

ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 8,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

American Society for Radiation Oncology

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