Out of 38,000 new cancer patients annually, one in 8 is diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
At 13%, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and at 11% the second most common cancer in women.1 Ninety-five percent of all those affected develop adenocarcinoma, tumours such as lymphomas, sarcomas, neuroendocrine tumours or squamous cell carcinomas, are diagnosed less frequently. Early diagnosis is often difficult due to lack of characteristic symptoms; local symptoms such as pain, cramps, and haematochezia usually occur, accompanied by weight loss, paraneoplasia, or anaemic symptoms. As a result of metastasis, liver failure or the appearance of icterus may also occur.
Before the start of therapy, treatment goals and the therapeutic measures necessary to achieve them are defined individually for each patient. In particular, the stage of the cancer and clinical risk factors such as comorbidity and age influence the choice of drugs and the intensity of treatment. For cancer patients in stages 1 to 3, complete resection of the primary tumour is the central element of curative therapy. Adjuvant drug tumour therapy aims to prevent the manifestation of distant metastases. In addition, it leads to a reduction in the recurrence rate as well as to an increase in the survival rate. Fluoropyrimidines (capecitabine, 5-fluorouracil/folinic acid) and other cytostatic drugs such as irinotecan and oxaliplatin as well as monoclonal antibodies (bevacizumab, cetuximab, panitumumab) are components of drug-based tumour therapy.2
1 STATISTIK AUSTRIA (ed.). Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Austria 2014: http://www.statistik.at/web_de/dynamic/statistiken/gesundheit/krebserkrankungen/dickdarm_enddarm/publdetail?id=95&listid=95&detail=679 (accessed 08.05.2015).
2 Austrian Society for Haematology & Medical Oncology (ed.): http://www.oegho.at/onkopedia-leitlinien/solide-tumore/kolonkarzinom.html (accessed 08.05.2015).