Last Modified: May 8, 2012
I was diagnosed with a stage II colon cancer. I am really just ok with only surgery? How can my doctor be sure I don't need chemotherapy or radiation?
Liz Prechtel-Dunphy, Oncology Nurse Practitioner at Penn Medicine responds:
Most often in patients with stage II colon cancer, chemotherapy is not recommended. The oncologists make their treatment recommendations based on the pathology from surgery, the patient's risk factors and patient overall status (performance status). There is some additional testing that can be done on the pathology from the surgery that can identify additional information that may be considered when the oncologist is deciding on treatment recommendations.
Bruce Giantonio, MD, Medical Oncologist at Penn Medicine responds:
Stage II colon cancer represents one of the great challenges for us in deciding whether or not chemotherapy should be use. I can tell you right now that we don't use radiation for stage II colon cancer, but the chemotherapy part of your question is harder to answer. And that difficulty is because we don't have the definitive clinical trial to tell us if chemotherapy following surgery for stage II disease reduces the chance of recurrence. Recently we have seen analyses that tell us if one's tumor has a particular biologic feature, that those individuals will do well, and won't garner any benefit from chemotherapy with 5FU. That test is called microsatellite testing. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that your cancer was found very early. I hope that helps.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire transcript from the Focus on GI Cancers webchat.