For a person with metastatic colon cancer, which is colon cancer that has spread beyond the colon to other parts of the body, the situation may feel hopeless and overwhelming. But a recently published review of survival rates after metastatic colon cancer diagnosis brings new hope that this disease can be more effectively managed with newer treatment options. The results of this review, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology online May 26, 2009, indicate that in the period from 1990 through 2006, the length of survival after metastatic colon cancer diagnosis has improved dramatically.
Between 1990 and 1997, the researchers noted that the median, overall length of survival held steady at 14.2 months. However, in the following years, median survival improved notably, to 18 months from 1998 to 2000, and then to 18.6 months from 2001 to 2003. The overall median length of survival improved most dramatically, to 29.2 months, for patients diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer from 2004 to 2006. Also encouraging is that the 5-year survival rate more than doubled from 9.1% in the early years of the study to 19.2% for patients diagnosed in 2001 to 2003. The improvements in survival are due to a combination of more effective chemotherapy medications and surgery to remove colon tumors that have spread to the liver.
Years of Life
The bottom line is that even after receiving an original diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer, good treatment can allow patients to live meaningful lives for years, rather than weeks and months. This may seem like small comfort to someone facing a diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer, but it points toward the day when metastatic colon cancer may become a chronic, manageable condition, rather than a life-shortening disease.
If you've been diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer, be sure you talk to your doctor about all of the treatment options you should consider. New research breakthroughs are being made daily and you may even want to find out if a clinical trial is right for you. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of clinical trials with your health care team.