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Beating the Odds With Rectal Cancer

Radiaton therapy before surgery extends life for patients

FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- People with rectal cancer who receive radiation therapy before surgery have longer survival rates than people who just have surgery.

So says a study in the November issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

The study involved 98 randomly selected people who were followed for eight years as part of the Swedish Rectal Cancer Trial. The study found the people who received radiation therapy before having surgery for rectal cancer survived an average of 21 months longer than people who didn't have the radiation.

That survival benefit of almost two extra years was also cost-effective, the study says. It cost $5,188 more for both the radiation therapy and surgery than for surgery alone. The researchers say the cost for a life-year saved is comparable to other well-accepted medical interventions.

With rising health-care costs, this type of cost-effectiveness analysis is an important factor in deciding whether using radiation therapy before surgery is a valid treatment strategy, the researchers say.

More information

Here's where to go to find out more about rectal cancer.

SOURCE: American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, news release, October 2002
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