Colon Cancer

Advancing Treatment Procedures

It is one the most prevalent types of cancer that may start in the inner lining of the colon wall or rectum (large intestine). It starts with the development of non cancerous growths called polyps, only some of these polyps have the tendency to turn in to tumor with the passage of time. Colon cancer is a life threatening ailment in its advance stages. About 150,000 people are diagnosed with this cancer and over 50,000 people loose their lives each year in USA. One of the most disturbing facts about this cancer is that its symptoms rarely appear in the early phases. Therefore, people are dependent on screening tests in order to detect this cancer at early stages, when the treatment is most effective.

 Conventional treatment methods for colon cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapies. These traditional treatment methods are most successful for the patient's in early stages of colon cancer. However, the effectiveness of these treatments reduces with the advancement in the stages of colorectal cancer. Intense research is producing new approaches for treating advance stage and metastatic colon cancer patients. Researchers have a great focus on giving personalized treatments to the patients, which means the treatment methods will be based on the molecular characteristics of the tumor in a particular patient. These tailored treatments will exclude the ineffective therapies and medicines for a particular patient, which will minimize the side effects.  New chemotherapy drugs (Avastin, Erbitux (Cetuximab) and Zaltrap) arrived in the market this year. And many new drugs are in late stage clinical trials and will hit the market in coming years. It is believed that by 2015 over 60% of colorectal cancer patients will be given targeted therapies for treatment.

 In future the study of colon cancer will be clearer in terms of genetic understanding.  It can result in earlier detection and treatment of high-risk persons. It will also help to choose the most appropriate treatment methods on an individual level. Numerous molecular markers (that predict response to treatment) for colon cancer are being measured. The development in the treatment of colorectal cancer depends on these prognostic (information about patient’s overall outcome) and predictive (provide information about the effect of particular drug/therapy) markers. These markers are identified mainly through the study of normal cell behaviors. Biological causes of early colon cancer are not completely understood, and further advancements must target the evaluation of predictive biomarkers for chemotherapy. Individual level assessment of prognosis and expected results of chemotherapy will help in making more precise decision in the coming years.

 Dealing with metastatic colon cancer is becoming more complex, with the advancement of new therapies and advent of new active agents. Potential success of these advancements makes certain that targeted therapies will play a vital role in management of colorectal cancer. These advancements in the last 10 years have a great impact on survival and quality of life of patients affected with this chronic disease.