Circulating and genetic factors in colorectal cancer Potential factors for establishing prognosis?
UNLABELLED Two identical randomized controlled trials designed to optimize adjuvant treatment of colon cancer (CC) (n =855) and rectal cancer (RC) (n = 796) were performed. Long-term evaluation confirmed that the addition of folinic acid (FA) to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) improved 7-year overall survival (OS) in CC but not in RC and revealed different patterns of recurrence in patients with CC and those with RC. BACKGROUND Our aim was to compare long-term results of adjuvant treatment of colon cancer (CC) and rectal cancer (RC). Adjuvant chemotherapy of CC improved overall survival (OS), whereas that of RC remained at the level achieved by 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). METHODS We separately conducted 2 identically designed adjuvant trials in CC and RC. Patients were assigned to adjuvant chemotherapy with 5-FU alone, 5-FU + folinic acid (FA), or 5-FU + interferon-alfa. The first study enrolled patients with stage IIb/III CC, and the second study enrolled patients with stage II/III RC. All patients with RC received postoperative irradiation. RESULTS Median follow-up for all patients with CC (n = 855) and RC (n = 796) was 4.9 years. The pattern and frequency of recurrence differed significantly, especially lung metastases, which occurred more frequently in RC (12.7%) than in CC (7.3%; P < .001). Seven-year OS rates for 5-FU, 5-FU + FA, and 5-FU + IFN-alfa were 54.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 46.5-61.0), 66.8% (95% CI, 59.4-73.1), and 56.7% (95% CI, 49.3-63.4) in CC and 50.6% (95% CI, 43.0-57.7), 56.3% (95% CI, 49.4-62.7), and 54.8% (95% CI, 46.7-62.2) in RC, respectively. A subgroup analysis pointed to a reduced local recurrence (LR) rate and an increased OS by the addition of FA in stage II RC (n = 271) but not in stage III RC (n = 525). CONCLUSION FA increased 7-year OS by 12.7 percentage points in CC but was not effective in RC. Based on these results and the pattern of metastases, our results suggest that the chemosensitivity of CC and RC may be different. Strategies different from those used in CC may be successful to decrease the frequency of distant metastases in RC in the future.