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Chemotherapy before surgery reduces risk of colon cancer recurrence, finds Cancer Research UK-funded trial

Administering chemotherapy before surgery can significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer recurrence, according to a Cancer Research UK-funded trial. The FOxTROT trial, led by the University of Birmingham and the University of Leeds, involved 1,053 colon cancer patients from 85 hospitals across the UK, Denmark, and Sweden. The trial revealed that providing patients with six weeks of chemotherapy before surgery can reduce the risk of the disease returning within two years by 28%.

The FOxTROT trial divided colon cancer patients into two groups. The first group received six weeks of chemotherapy before surgery, followed by 18 weeks of chemotherapy after surgery, while the second group had standard treatment, which was surgery first, followed by 24 weeks of chemotherapy. Researchers found that patients who had chemotherapy before surgery were less likely to see their cancer come back than those who got all their chemotherapy after surgery.

The FOxTROT trial’s findings suggest that delivering chemotherapy before surgery could be a cost-effective way of preventing cancer recurrence. The treatment could be easily adopted by healthcare systems worldwide, potentially benefiting at least 5,000 colon cancer patients in the UK and hundreds of thousands of patients globally every year. Dr. Rohin Mittal, Colorectal Surgeon at Christian Medical College Vellore, said, “The recently published FOxTROT trial has shown that patients with colon cancer can benefit from a short course of chemotherapy before surgery. It leads to a 28% reduction in tumor recurrence and residual disease, thereby improving outcomes.”

The FOxTROT trial’s results could transform cancer care globally, including in low- and middle-income countries where cancer treatments are often prohibitively expensive. Delivering chemotherapy before surgery is a simple yet effective way of preventing cancer recurrence and could potentially save thousands of lives every year.



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