Global cancer trial sets new standard for post-surgery chemotherapy

Some stage III colon cancer patients can cut in half the number of chemotherapy treatments they receive after surgery, significantly reducing the costs, treatment time, and long-term toxic effects of chemotherapy, according to results of a unique global clinical trial collaboration published for the first time in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Results show that for some colon cancer patients with stage III disease who undergo surgical removal of their tumor and lymph nodes, the standard six-month post-surgery course of chemotherapy may not be needed. Instead, for many low-risk patients, a three-month course will not significantly affect the rate at which their cancer returns and will prevent harmful side effects, including nerve injury from the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin that can sometimes cause permanent pain, numbness, and tingling.

The clinical trials that produced the results are known collectively as the International Duration Evaluation in Adjuvant Chemotherapy (IDEA) collaboration. The IDEA collaboration launched in 2007 and remains unique in its design and global scope, enrolling 12,834 eligible patients in six phase III trials run in parallel in 12 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. In North America, the trial is managed by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and SWOG, two


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