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UVM researchers work to find better ways to treat colorectal cancer patients

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 5:11 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Colorectal cancer is one of the top five most common cancers in the country. The American Cancer Society says there are about 150,000 new cases a year of colorectal cancer. It’s expected to kill 52,580 people this year. The risk for developing it is estimated at 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. So about 4%. That’s why the conversation about how to treat colorectal cancer is important.

New research out from the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine says recently, the standard of care focused on aggressive chemotherapy and chemoradiation followed by surgery to get rid of the cancerous tissue. But researchers say that treatment can seriously impact patient quality of life and the costs can outweigh the benefits for some patients.

Their new paper proposes taking into account both health outcomes and patient quality of life when determining treatments, saying local therapies may be enough with fewer side effects.

“What we have found is that patients can have both. There are options where for instance if they got chemo and radiation before a surgery, the tumor might completely disappear and they might not need surgery and then they can have a better quality of life and avoid the side effects from surgery. And still have that good outcome in terms of getting rid of their diseases as well,” said Dr. Chris Anker, a radiation oncologist with the University of Vermont Health Network and an assistant radiology professor at the UVM Larner College of Medicine.

They remind people that avoiding the need for those treatments altogether is the best approach.

Screening recommendations have changed from age 50 to age 45 for average people and even earlier for those with certain risk factors. So talk to your doctor about that.

Watch the video to see our Cat Viglienzoni’s full conversation with Dr. Chris Anker.

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