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Cetuximab added to neoadjuvant chemotherapy enables life-saving surgery in patients with liver lesions linked to colorectal cancer, according to a report in The Lancet Oncology.
It says that while removal of colorectal liver metastases is a potential cure, the disease has traditionally been inoperable in up to 80% of patients.
But research now shows that neoadjuvant treatment with irinotecan or oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy can shrink tumours to the point where surgery is viable.
The report notes that treatment with cetuximab resulted in a 28% increase in the number tumours amenable to surgery, and a 70% tumour response in one group of patients.
Meanwhile, treatment was generally well tolerated. Grade 3 toxicity occurred in 72% of patients, the most common being skin reactions and neutropenia.
The authors conclude: “Our data suggest that treatment with cetuximab and chemotherapy results in high confirmed tumour response rates leading to increased resectability.
“In the light of recent studies in metastatic colorectal cancer, the value of further treatment intensification will be investigated.”
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