Therapeutic Options in the Management of Colon Cancer: 2005 Update

Gail M. Wilkes

CJON 2005, 9(1), 31-44. DOI: 10.1188/05.CJON.31-44

Recently, major developments in the treatment of colon cancer have emerged. These developments include improvements in surgical technique and staging and the introduction of new molecularly targeted pharmacologic agents. Improvements in surgical management involve enhanced staging techniques, allowing more accurate determination of risk of recurrence. Newer agents, such as oxaliplatin, cetuximab, and bevacizumab, now are approved for the treatment of colon cancer. The data associated with use of oxaliplatin in adjuvant and metastatic settings continue to mature; survival benefits are expected to become more fully apparent in the next two years. Bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes vascular endothelial growth factor, when combined with irinotecan, 5-fluorouracil, and leucovorin (IFL), was superior to IFL alone in achieving median and progression- free survival. Cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the epidermal growth factor receptor, when given in combination with irinotecan, achieved an increased objective response and increased time to progression, compared with cetuximab alone, in patients refractory to irinotecan-containing regimens. In addition to surgical and pharmacologic developments, the recognition that genetics and molecular markers play an important role in carcinogenesis has heightened research to integrate this knowledge into practice. Nurses play a pivotal role in the care of patients with colon cancer and must be conversant in the new advances in treatment.

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