Younger patients don't attain survival benefit from current rectal cancer treatment recommendations
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A new study reveals that individuals younger than 50 years of age who are diagnosed with rectal cancer do not experience an overall survival benefit from currently recommended treatments. Specifically, the addition of chemotherapy and radiation to surgery does not prolong life for these patients. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings suggest that early onset disease may differ from later onset disease in terms of biology and response to therapy.

The overall incidence of rectal cancer is decreasing in patients older than 50 years of age, likely due to improved screening adherence; however, there is a disproportionate increase in rectal cancer incidence in patients under the age of 50 years. In addition, the mortality rate from rectal cancer among younger patients has increased in the past several decades.

Current national guidelines–which recommend a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery for stages II and III rectal cancer–are predominantly based on data from patients older than 50 years of age. To examine how younger patients fare, a team led by Atif Iqbal, MD, of the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville, examined 2004-2014 information from the National Cancer Database. A

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