ONCOLOGY Vol 20 No 14

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Treatment of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: From Cytotoxic Agents to Molecular Agents and Multitargeted Strategies

December 24th 2006

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in United States. For nearly 50 years, fluorouracil has been the only anticancer drug proven to benefit patients with metastatic CRC (mCRC), and it continues to be the backbone on which most treatment regimens are built. In the past 10 years, development of the topoisomerase I inhibitor irinotecan (Camptosar), the third-generation platinum analog oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), and the oral fluoropyrimidine capecitabine (Xeloda) advanced mCRC treatment and opened up an era of combination chemotherapy. More recently, monoclonal antibodies such as bevacizumab (Avastin), cetuximab (Erbitux), and panitumumab (Vectibix) have become available for use in mCRC treatment in combination with cytotoxic agents and as monotherapies. The addition of these targeted agents to the mCRC treatment armamentarium has resulted in more therapeutic options and improved treatment outcomes for the patients. The prospect of mCRC treatment is ever promising as more targeted agents such as vatalanib are being introduced and as intelligent combination regimens are being designed based upon a better understanding of pharmacokinetics. In this article we review various treatment options, including cytotoxic and targeted agents, currently available for patients with mCRC.