Colorectal Cancer has New Treatments
Latest Statistic for Colorectal Cancer
There are some new treatments for colorectal cancer available which is one of the most deadly cancers in the United States. There are new drugs that allow even those with advanced metastatic disease to live longer although, there is no cure.
At this point the drugs may just add several months to a person’s life, which may seem like a small amount of time, but to the patients and their loved ones it is very significant. Researchers are convinced better outcomes are just a matter of time.
In 2018, the estimated new cases will reach 97,220 (colon) and 43,030 (rectal), with deaths of the combined cancers estimated at 50,630 according to the American Cancer Society.
The definition for the two cancers are colon cancer is found in the longest part of the large intestine, and rectal cancer which forms in the tissues of the rectum including the last several inches of the large intestine. This is a disease of the cells in the lining which become abnormal, divide without control and form a tumor.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in men (after prostate cancer). For women it is also third, after breast cancer and lung cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer.
- The exact cause of the cancer is unknown, but studies have shown some factors that seem to be linked to the increased risk of getting the disease.
- Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur when people are older, although it can happen at any age, but for most people it is over 50.
- Polyps are abnormal growths in the intestines that protrude from the lining and are usually benign. However, experts think that most cancers develop from polyps (known as adenomas), and detecting polyps and removing them may prolong your life. That is why once you reach 50 your physician pushes you to have a colonoscopy. During this procedure a physician will do a polypectomy if necessary.
- A person who has already had this type of cancer is at an increased risk of developing it a second time. Also, women who have had ovarian, uterine or breast cancer have a higher probability of developing this disease.
- Family history is also a consideration, as individuals with close relatives that have had colorectal cancer are somewhat more likely to develop this type of cancer. This is true particularly if the family member developed the cancer at a young age.
- There are some diseases that can cause an increased of getting colorectal cancer, which are ulcerative colitis, crohn colitis as these conditions cause chronic inflammation in the lining of the colon.
- There is evidence that diet is a factor. Diets that are associated with cancer include a high consumption of red and processed meats and a too low consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. There is currently research being done in this area.
Colon Cancer Treatment
Typical screenings for colorectal cancer
Fecal occult blood test: This test checks for hidden blood in fecal material. Studies have shown that this test alone when repeated every one to two years can reduce deaths by 15-33%. Bleeding from the rectum will be considered as a possible colon cancer sign.
Sigmoidscopy: The rectum and lower colon are examined in this test. If there s an abnormal growth it can be biopsied or removed.
Colonoscopy: The entire colon is examined with a lighted instrument called a colonoscope and thankfully anesthesia is part of the procedure. Again, abnormal growths can be removed or biopsied. You have to do a thorough cleansing ahead of time which is not particularly pleasant.
Virtual colonoscopy: This procedure is done with a CAT scan and the pictures are assembled to be examined as detailed images. This is certainly less invasive and anesthesia is not necessary, and it has the advantage of finding other cancers in the area that is x-rayed. It is more expensive however.
Digital rectal exam: This is a procedure done with the physician inserted his gloved hand with a lubricant into the rectum to feel for abnormal areas. I wouldn’t call this procedure much fun either.
A rather large group of various medical associations have come up with a list of criteria to determine which factors should determine the appropriate test for an individual, which includes the person’s age, medical and family history and general health. Also, they consider the accuracy of the test, potential harm of the test, whether sedation is necessary, any necessary follow-up care, plus the convenience and cost of the test.
3 Cancer Stages
New Treatment Protocols
Treatment started slowly changing about 1996 as new drugs were added or replaced, but the first real advance was in 2004. That is when targeted therapies began with the use of Avastin and Erbitux which specifically target cancer tumors; therefore side effects are less.
They started combining various drugs which would extend metastatic cancers for 5-6 months. Even still, there are draw backs to all these regimes, for instance, Avastin seems to increase the risk of hear attacks and strokes.
New research is using these drugs and other drug combination in earlier stages of the disease, which have positive results. Chemotherapy is typically given as systemic or regional therapy.
One of the problems they are facing is the very high costs of some of these drugs.
Targeted therapy may be used depending on the stage of colorectal cancer, and these drugs are given intravenously:
- Bevacizumab (Avastin)
- Ramucirumab (Cyramza)
- Ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap)
- Cetuximab (Erbitux) with EGRF changes
- Panitumumab (Vectibix) with EGRF changes
Insurance typically does cover the costs, but if you have a 20 % co-pay you will find out they are expensive medicines. Surgery is usually the standard treatment, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.
Life expectancy in 1995, was 11 months for colorectal cancer and now it is 2 years. While things have improved with the various new drug treatments we are certainly a long way from a cure. Research is being done continually on cancer treatment and advances are being made slowly.
"The benefits of these drugs are so dramatic that we can't deny people from getting them," says Damian Augustyn, MD, spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association. "But the costs will put an enormous strain on the health care system."
There is a new protocol under study called NeoPlas Innovation. Individuals from 26 U.S. states and four other countries have been among the first to use NeoPlas Innovation's new protocol. This has been our best top success for some patients where chemotherapy hasn’t worked, and they are not candidate for surgery due to the widespread growth of cancer cells.
It is not exclusive to just colon cancer, but also for kidney, pancreatic, melanoma, mesothelioma and certain sarcomas, being determined on a case by care basis.
The treatment is a combination of existing medicines, Lovastatin, (typically used to reduce cholesterol), and interferon. These drugs have a precise schedule, and the good news is there is no vomiting, hair loss, and immune system suppression as are seen in normal chemotherapy.
New colon cancer treatment (Vecvovet)
What can you do to Prevent Colorectal Cancer?
First, if you have a positive family history, you will want to make sure you have earlier evaluations. The fecal blood test is simple, and it is often done on women when they have there GYN appointment. It can also be done in your home, and where you take the samples to the lab when completed. If you have a positive test, than further testing will be done immediately.
The other thing you can do is live a healthy life, and particularly eat a healthy diet limiting red meat and processed meats. Eat more vegetables, fruits and grains. Always report any blood in your stool whether it is bright red or black.
Live a stress free as possible. Stress is often being shown to have a connection with many diseases. That is easier said than done, but take some quiet time of self reflection and meditation. Exercise so those healthy endorphins will be floating around your body.
Take time to have fun. You only have on shot at this life, so lighten up!
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.