New York: The addition of chemotherapy and radiation to surgery may not prolong life for rectal cancer patients under 50 years of age, new research has found.
The findings, published in the journal Cancer, suggest that early onset disease may differ from later onset disease in terms of biology and response to therapy.
“Our findings support the notion that rectal cancer in young patients may be biologically different from older patients, with differing response to treatment, as has been previously shown in colon cancer,” said team leader Atif Iqbal from University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville, US.
In rectal cancer, malignant cells affect the tissues of the rectum and current guidelines in the US recommend a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery for stages two and three cancer.
For the study, the team analysed data from of 52,519 patients.
The team found that patients younger than 50 years old who have been diagnosed with rectal cancer represent a unique group and experience no benefit from the current treatment for stages two and three rectal cancer.
According to the team, the study also revealed age-specific survival data for younger patients.
“These data provide practising physicians the ability to offer a prognosis personalised to the younger population, which can greatly improve discussions with younger patients,” Iqbal explained.