NEW YORK, June 1 (UPI) -- A majority of patients with advanced colorectal cancer that has spread to other organs may skip surgery and begin chemotherapy, U.S. researchers say.
Lead author Philip Paty says the conventional approach to treating stage IV level of colon cancer had been surgery immediately following diagnosis, typically followed by chemotherapy three to six weeks later.
Paty and a multidisciplinary team looked at 233 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 2000 to 2006.
The analysis showed that 217 of the 233 patients, or 93 percent, did not have complications that required surgery of the primary tumor. Sixteen patients required surgery for symptom management.
"We now know that the routine use of surgery for these patients is based on old thinking, and we're beyond that," Paty said in a statement.
"There will always be the need for individual exceptions based on the clinical situation, but our default position should be not to operate."
The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.