For patients with rectal cancer, receiving radiation therapy and chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor so it can be more easily removed helps keep the cancer from coming back, according to a study presented October 17, 2005, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncologys 47th Annual Meeting in Denver .
Beginning in 1992, doctors in France enrolled 733 patients suffering from rectal cancer into the study. The patients were split into two groups – the first received radiation alone for five weeks before undergoing surgery to remove the cancer. The second group received chemotherapy in addition to five weeks of radiation therapy prior to surgery.
"The standard treatment for rectal cancer has been radiation therapy alone before surgery, but this is the first randomized study to prove that adding chemotherapy to the treatment helps patients beat their cancer," said Pascale Romestaing, M.D., co-author of the study and a radiation oncologist at CHU Lyon Sud in Lyon, France.
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