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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid