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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid