Treatment for rectal cancer may be simplified, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Rectal cancer treatment can be quite extensive and challenging for someone to get through. Now a new study looks at whether some people with the condition can safely forgo radiation. Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson says maybe.

Nelson: Rectal cancer is typically treated by radiation therapy given along with chemotherapy before surgery, sometimes a little bit after surgery, and then extensive surgery. Very aggressive kind of treatment. What this trial did is trying to say does everybody need all of this and so they did a randomized trial, 1194 folks to get the chemotherapy for 12 weeks and they get the radiation therapy along with more chemotherapy only if after the 12 weeks the primary tumor had decreased less than 20%.    :31

Nelson says recurrence rates were similar for the two groups, suggesting that many can avoid radiation as part of their treatment. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.