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New hope for bowel cancer

10th October 2006

04092006_consulting_room1.jpgNew research has shown that the use of pre-operative radiotherapy on bowel cancer patients dramatically increases their chances of survival.

The research is the result of a trial by a Leeds based clinical oncologist whose findings show that giving a patient radiotherapy before rectal cancer surgery gives them the best chance of avoiding re-growth of the cancer and of survival in the longer term.

Traditionally, doctors treat cancer in the lower part of the bowel by surgically removing the tumour. But the operation can often miss cancerous cells and lead to an incurable recurrence in a majority of patients. Scientists now believe that giving patients radiotherapy before surgically removing tumours nearly eliminates the risk of the disease returning in later years.

Of the 35,000 cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in Britain each year, around one third who develop rectal cancer stand to benefit from the procedure.  The trial, called CR07, showed that when combined with the best surgical procedures, pre-operative radiotherapy reduced the risk of cancer recurring to 1%.

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