Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Bowel cancer health centre

This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Bowel cancer: New treatments, improved prognosis

New medicines show promise, but more research is needed
(continued)

Treatment before surgery for bowel cancer

Traditionally, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been used after surgery. This approach is called adjuvant therapy. The goal is to kill any cancer cells that might have survived the operation.

However, doctors are also using an approach called neoadjuvant therapy - treatment before surgery. The advantage is that the treatment can make the tumour smaller and easier to remove surgically. Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy is mainly used to treat cancers affecting the rectum. This may make it possible to avoid having a permanent colostomy. Sometimes chemotherapy is given in combination with radiotherapy.

"There's growing acceptance that using chemotherapy and radiation before surgery is more convenient and gives better results," Hoff says. "It's a trend that's gaining momentum around the world, but especially in the US."

Keeping treatment advances in perspective

While these advances in treatment are a cause for enthusiasm, none of them is the magic bullet that researchers hoped to discover.

Survival rates have improved for people with bowel cancer. While the progress may still look frustratingly slow for those with metastatic disease, we are still moving forwards. The progress may not be dramatic, but some of the most important advances may come in the details - small adjustments with different dosages, treatment regimens and combinations of medicines. Hopefully, with time and research, all of these smaller steps may add up to something big.

1|2|3
Reviewed on August 10, 2010

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

man holding back
Myths & facts about back pain
hands grabbing knee
How to keep your joints healthy
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
cute baby
Simple tips to keep baby's skin healthy
cute dog
10 common allergy triggers
79x79_hairloss_in_women.jpg
Do you know what causes hair loss?
woman exercising
Exercises for low back pain
sperm and egg
Facts to help you get pregnant
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
rash on skin
Soothe skin and prevent flare-ups
mother and child
Could your baby be allergic to milk?
pregnant woman eating healthy salad
Nutrition needs before pregnancy