Tag Archives: survival

Veterans Health System Beats Medicare in Colon Cancer Survival

Older men with several kinds of cancer–including colon cancer–do as well or better in the Veterans’ Health Administration as men covered by Medicare, according to a new study published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology in an advanced online release. The Veterans’ Administration is the nation’s largest integrated health system, providing care for 6 million veterans a year who are eligible because of either service-related disabilities or economic disadvantage. The VHA launched a major reorganization in the mid-1990s to improve its quality of care through electronic records, better care coordination and mistake detection, and improved screening.

Early Palliative Care Increases Survival Time

Should cancer care focused on quality of life wait until all treatment ends?  Or can it be integrated with medical treatment as soon as someone is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness? In a study of 150 advanced lung cancer patients, starting palliative care along with standard life-prolonging treatment when patients were first diagnosed not only improved their mood and quality of life, it actually increased the time they lived. Although patients who received early palliative care received less aggressive treatment at the end of life, they lived almost 3 months longer than patients who didn’t have such early support.

No Difference in Chemotherapy Benefits for Young Patients with Stage II and III Colon Cancer Compared to Those Fifty and Older

Young patients with stage II or III colon cancer get equal benefit from chemotherapy as older patients, and they have similar side effects. Five years after treatment, 67 percent of patients under the age of fifty hadn’t had their cancer spread beyond the colon (recurrence-free interval), the same percentage that applied to patients who were fifty or over. Overall survival and disease-free survival were somewhat better for young patients because they had fewer other reasons for dying.  Overall and disease-free survival reflect patients who are alive five years after beginning treatment.  Neither includes people who have died from any cause, including their cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Research Briefs: Patients want colonoscopy videos

Briefly Hormone replacement therapy reduces risk of colon cancer. Smoking before age 30 increases chances that colon cancer will recur. Low CEA levels improve both survival and disease-free survival for stage II colon cancer. Most patients want videos of their colonoscopies and are willing to pay for them.

Patient Outcomes Vary Depending on Liver Resectability

Patients with stage IV colorectal cancer live longer when tumors in their liver can be removed surgically, but not all patients have cancer that can be operated on. Separating patients with liver tumors from colorectal cancer into three groups according to possible liver resectability, British doctors found a wide variation in both overall survival and progression-free survival three years later.

Which Side of the Colon Matters

More evidence is emerging that right-sided colon cancers are different in significant ways from those on the left side. Information from 17,641 colon cancer patients in the German Colon/Rectum Cancer Study Group found that people with cancers on the right side of the colon were older, had more chronic illness, and were more likely to be women.  There were significantly more deaths in this group.

Value of KRAS and BRAF Mutations in Forecasting Survival

For stage II and III colon cancer, a tumor mutation in the KRAS gene does not impact either relapse-free survival or overall survival. BRAF mutations, which are less common, don’t help with prognosis for relapse-free survival, but do provide information about overall survival in some tumors.   Patients with BRAF mutations and microsatellite-low or stable tumors had poorer overall survival than those without mutations.

NSAIDS Reduce Deaths from Colorectal Cancer

Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS) before being diagnosed with colorectal cancer reduced women’s deaths both from any cause and from colorectal cancer five years later. Women followed as part of the California Teachers Study who used NSAIDS regularly had more than 40 percent reduction in colorectal cancer deaths and a 30 percent  reduced chance of dying overall.

Early Stage Patients Benefit from Regular Follow-Up

Patients with very early stage colon cancer benefit as much from regular followup testing after surgery as later stage patients do. While overall patients with stage I or IIA colon cancer (early stage) have a lower risk of cancer returning than patients with stage IIB or III (later stage), careful surveillance after surgery is as effective in finding and treating cancer in both groups. About one in three patients in both the early and late stage who had a recurrence detected during surveillance were able to have surgery with the goal of curing their cancer.  

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