Author | Shannon K. Penland, MD, MS


Current Strategies in Previously Untreated Advanced Colorectal Cancer

May 01, 2004

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancerrelateddeath in the United States. Approximately 30% to 40% of patientswith colorectal cancer have locoregionally advanced or metastaticdisease on presentation and cannot be cured with surgical therapy.After many years without significant change, systemic therapy forcolorectal cancer is rapidly evolving. The past decade has seen the introductionof new chemotherapeutic agents such as irinotecan(Camptosar), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) and the oral 5-FU prodrugcapecitabine (Xeloda). Combination studies of these new agents withthe standard 5-FU/leucovorin have extended median survival in patientswith advanced colorectal cancer for up to 21 months. In addition,targeted agents with activity in colorectal cancer have emergedand are promising. This article reviews the current treatment recommendationsfor patients who present with advanced colorectal cancer.Survival in patients with advanced colorectal cancer is on a positivetrajectory. The hope that some patients with advanced disease will belong-term survivors (even without surgery) appears to be within therange of possibility.