News / Health

Study: Doctors Less Likely to Give Chemo to Older Colon Cancer Patients

Study: Doctors Less Likely to Give Chemo to Older Colon Cancer Patients
Study: Doctors Less Likely to Give Chemo to Older Colon Cancer Patients

Multimedia

Melinda Smith

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists colon cancer among the deadliest diseases.  In 2004, some 639,000 people around the world died from colon cancer. If caught in time, surgery and chemotherapy are effective treatments.  But a new randomized trial finds that older cancer patients aren't always offered another treatment option that might extend their lives.

Marty Petcoff had surgery for stage three colon cancer.  Stage three means the cancer has spread beyond the middle layers of the colon and most likely into nearby lymph nodes.

He is optimistic his chemotherapy treatment will be just as successful.

"We're in the phase of cleaning up some stuff we can't see," he said.

Petcoff and other older patients do not always undergo chemotherapy after colon cancer surgery.

Researchers conducted a randomized study of 675 patients diagnosed with stage three colon cancer.  All had undergone surgery.  

Among the 202 patients over the age of 75, exactly half also received what's called adjuvant, or supplemental, chemotherapy.  

That is similar to the chemotherapy treatment given to 87 percent of younger patients in the study.  Dr. Katherine Kahn and fellow researchers studied these patients from five regions of the United States.  

"... amongst older patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy, they appear to be tolerating the treatment as well as younger patients who receive the treatment," explained Dr. Katherine Kahn.

Now here are some differences:  the older patients were given adjuvant chemotherapy in weaker doses and for a shorter period of time.  But it turned out the elderly patients had fewer adverse effects from the drugs than younger patients.

Previous research in 2008 surveyed doctors about their recommendations for older patients.  That study asked them whether a patient's age and other illnesses might play a role in not recommending chemotherapy after surgery.  

Doctors were divided on whether chemo should be given to elderly patients, after surgery.

Dr. Kahn says this data shows that more attention should be paid to the ability of the patient to tolerate the drug, rather than his or her age.

"It informs patients and doctors that if they see an older patient with stage three colon cancer, they shouldn't automatically, based upon their age, decide not to treat the patient," added Dr. Kahn.  "They should work with the patient and family individually, to try to get a sense of how well that patient might tolerate the treatment."

Marty Petcoff is happy that he was offered those options.

"I'm doing more," he said.  "I'm more relaxed and I see great value in the things that are coming my way.  Now how about that for a cancer patient?"

The study appears in an issue about cancer research of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid