University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 19, 1998
Adjuvant chemotherapy -- drugs used to prevent the recurrence of cancer after surgery -- is an important weapon in the treatment of the disease. Until now, the combination most often used included fluorouracil (FU) and levamisole (LEV) for a full year after surgery .
This major 5-year study of 3,759 patients -- the largest trial to evaluate adjuvant chemotherapy for high risk colon cancer -- has identified the most effective combinations and schedules of chemotherapy to administer after surgery. This new trial suggests that combinations of FU and leucovorin (LV) over a six-month period are at least as effective in extending survival and should represent standard adjuvant treatment for patients with high-risk colon cancer.
Levamisole received substantial attention in the early 1990's when studies indicated that it was associated with a survival benefit in the treatment of colon cancer compared to surgery alone. In the currently reported trial, levamisole did not add significant benefit to the basic regimen of FU and LV, and is no longer considered a mandatory component of adjuvant therapy.