Are there new treatments for colorectal cancer?
The Food and Drug Administration has approved five new colorectal cancer drugs since 1996: Camptosar, Eloxatin, Erbitux, Avastin and Vectibix. Additional experimental drugs may soon add to the arsenal, Meropol says. Though these drugs have improved survival for patients whose disease has spread to other organs, Saltz says, they can’t cure colorectal cancer. And the new drugs still are used in combination with older, more toxic chemotherapies, which can make patients very sick. Q: Has there been other progress against colorectal cancer? A: Yes. Robert Mayer, an expert at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, says deaths from the disease have fallen nearly 9% since 1990. Screenings get much of the credit, Mayer says, along with better treatments, such as treating earlier cancers with both surgery and chemotherapy. “These are positive signs for a disease that is the second-most common cause of cancer death,” Mayer says.