New Drug Expands Limited Treatment Arsenal for for Colorectal Cancer

University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 18, 1998

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common malignancies, with over 131,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. 5FU has been used as the primary treatment for colon cancer for decades, with few effective new drugs to complement this therapy. Patients who do not respond to the standard chemotherapy treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer have few treatment options beyond supportive care as the tumor progresses.

In this phase III multicenter randomized trial, researchers report that a new agent, CPT-11, increased survival time and quality of life compared to supportive care alone and should be offered as a standard treatment in patients resistant to treatment with 5-Fluorouracil (5FU). This 279 patient study showed that patients receiving CPT-11 lived 2.6 times longer than patients receiving only su`pportive care, and that quality of life measurements were higher in the CPT-11 patients.