Chemotherapy may benefit some colon cancer patients

Arizona residents with colon cancer in their family history may be interested in the result of a study published Jan. 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine that examines a way of detecting how aggressive colon cancer might be at an earlier stage. Usually, chemotherapy is not recommended following surgery for patients who have stage 2 colon cancer. However, researchers say that a certain genetic marker may indicate that some patients will benefit from chemotherapy.

CDX2 is the name of a protein produced by some colon tumors. Tumors that produce the protein are less likely to return because the protein helps to regulate colon cells. It is easy to detect CDX2 because rather than relying on a genetic scan to do so, researchers can use an inexpensive antibody test.

It is believed that at least 5 to 10 percent of people with colon cancer do not produce CDX2. While researchers caution that more study is needed to confirm causation between the protein and survival rates, it is likely that doctors may begin to do chemotherapy on stage 2 colon cancer patients anyway. The study found more than 90 percent of CDX2-negative patients who received chemotherapy treatments along with surgery were still alive at the five-year mark versus around 56 percent who did not have chemotherapy.

One thing this study highlights is the importance of detecting conditions like colon cancer early on because a patient may be more likely to survive. However, in some cases, a medical professional might fail to pursue tests that lead to a colon cancer diagnosis. A patient whose condition worsens as a result may want to seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney in pursuing compensation from the negligent practitioner.