Drug Mixture May Slow Colon Cancer

NEW YORK - A study recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that combining a new drug with the standard ones could more effectively slow end-stage colorectal cancer, slightly prolonging victims' lives.

The drug irinotecan, also known as Camptosar, is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating patients with advanced, Stage IV colorectal cancer after standard drugs fail. Led by Dr. Saltz of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a three-drug combination of irinotecan, fluorouracil, and leucovorin increased average survival to 15 months from 13 months, and the share of patients whose tumors temporarily shrank went to 50% from 28%.

In the current study, 226 patients received fluorouracil and leucovorin, while 231 patients got periodic shots of those two drugs plus irinotecan. For more information visit www.fda.gov.