Is Chemo Overused for Younger Colon Cancer Patients?

Researchers find treatment often isn't beneficial in colon cancer
Researchers find treatment often isn't beneficial in colon cancer

HealthDay News — Young and middle-aged colon cancer patients may be getting chemotherapy more often than is warranted, according to a study published online January 25 in JAMA Surgery.

Kangmin Zhu, MD, PhD, from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md, and colleagues reviewed data on 3,143 colon cancer patients in the U.S. military who were cared for across the United States. All were aged 18 to 75, and had been diagnosed between 1998 and 2007. 

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Patients aged 18 to 64 were two to eight times more likely to undergo chemotherapy after surgery than patients aged 65 to 75, the researchers found. Those findings were true regardless of how advanced the tumor was at diagnosis. Young and middle-aged patients were also 2.5 times more likely to have chemotherapy using multiple drugs than older patients. Among patients who had surgery without any chemotherapy, young and middle-aged adults had better survival than older adults, but there were no significant differences in survival between young and middle-aged and older patients who had chemotherapy after surgery.

"In an equal-access health care system, we found potential overuse of chemotherapy among young and middle-aged adults with colon cancer," the authors write.

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