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Combo Treatment Improves Odds Against Certain Cancers

Heated chemotherapy, surgery may boost survival rates for some abdominal cavity tumor patients

THURSDAY, Feb. 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Surgery combined with heated chemotherapy drugs delivered directly into the abdomen may improve survival rates and quality of life for people with abdominal cavity cancer that has spread from the colon.

The finding is reported in the February issue of the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

The Wake Forest University study involved a retrospective review of 77 patients with abdominal cavity (peritoneal) cancer that had spread from colorectal cancer. All the patients had surgery to remove as much of the tumor and surrounding cancerous tissue as possible.

That surgery was followed immediately with a treatment called intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemotherapy (IPHC). The patients' core body temperatures were cooled to just over 93 degrees F. A chemotherapy agent, heated to a maximum of 105 degrees F, was then pumped through catheters and delivered directly into the abdominal cavity.

The patients' abdomens were gently massaged during the course of the two-hour IPHC treatment to improve distribution of the chemotherapy agent within the abdomen.

IPHC allows delivery of higher concentrations of chemotherapy drugs directly to the site of the tumor while reducing toxicity to the rest of the body, the researchers say.

The patients in this study had a median overall survival of 16 months, and 17 percent of the patients survived for five years or more. Most patients with peritoneal cancer survive three to six months without treatment. Surgery alone, external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy and systemic chemotherapy have all proven ineffective in treating this form of cancer.

"This study, combined with reports from other institutions, indicates that selected patients can achieve long-term survival with complete removal of peritoneal disease from colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States," study author Dr. Perry Shen, an assistant professor of surgical oncology, says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University, news release, February 2004
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