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Dramatic Increase in Survival for Metastatic Colon Cancer

Conquest - Fall 2009

Better surgical interventions and new drugs have increased the five-year survival of patients with metastatic colon cancer from 8% to 30%, according to recent research.

Scott Kopetz, M.D.

Results from this study, the first in the past 20 years to examine this population, showed that median overall survival is now more than 30 months, compared to eight months for patients diagnosed before 1990.

Recently, researchers have made great strides in identifying active agents for the disease, resulting in approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of numerous chemotherapies, explains Scott Kopetz, M.D., assistant professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology.

In addition, over the past decade, the concept that specific metastatic liver lesions can be surgically removed has become more widely accepted as practice. Therefore, more emphasis is now placed on identifying candidates for liver surgery.

“In the study, we found not only a significant improvement in overall survival for metastatic colorectal cancer patients, but we also demonstrated that the degree and rapidity of the improvement is of a magnitude that is rarely seen in metastatic cancers,” Kopetz says.

“Many of these patients are not necessarily disease-free, but living with their cancer with a high quality of life. For some patients, our goal of making metastatic colorectal cancer a chronic condition is closer to becoming a reality.”

Reported in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center