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Radiation first for rectal cancer good

LEIDEN, Netherlands, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A Dutch researcher says radiation before surgery may help keep rectal cancer from returning.

Lead author Dr. Corrie Marijnen of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands said patients with rectal cancer -- cancer the end of the large intestine -- who received one week of radiation therapy before surgery have a 50 percent reduction in chance their cancer will return after 10 years.

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"We believe that this short course of radiation will open a new window of opportunities in the treatment of rectal cancer," Marijnen said in a statement.

The study found patients who underwent radiation before surgery had a significant decrease -- 6 percent -- in their chance of local recurrence after 10 years of treatment versus those without radiation -- 11 percent.

"Our study suggests that tumors in the middle rectum and stage III rectal cancer patients will most greatly benefit from receiving radiation before surgery," Marijnen says.

Marijnen and colleagues randomly selected 1,800 rectal cancer patients whose disease had spread outside of its original location but not to other parts of the body to receive short-term radiation before surgery or surgery alone.

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The findings are scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology in San Diego.

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