New approaches to the adjuvant therapy of colon cancer

Al B. Benson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Analysis of data from patients treated outside clinical trials suggests that adjuvant chemotherapy for stage II colon cancer provides less than a 3% absolute improvement in survival at 5 years. This is remarkably close to the small degree of benefit suggested by controlled studies. An overview of the data suggests that surgery alone cures approximately 75% of stage II patients. Between 20% and 25% of patients experience disease recurrence despite surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy, whereas adjuvant chemotherapy cures between 1% and 6%. In stage III patients, the benefit of adjuvant therapy is greater overall. The extent of benefit relates to tumor grade, invasion, and nodal involvement. Incorporation of molecular markers in the design of current trials may enable us to refine our identification of patients at highest risk of recurrence and hence those standing to gain most from adjuvant therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-980
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006


  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Colon cancer
  • Stage II
  • Stage III

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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