Researchers recently demonstrated in a clinical study that younger patients with colorectal cancer that spreads to other parts of the body could be at greater risk of death than middle-aged people. The research was led by scientists at University of Colorado Cancer Center, and it was presented at the 2013 European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam. The study is continuing with collaboration with researchers at MD Anderson.
In the 24 phase III clinical trials, researchers analyzed 20,034 patients with colorectal cancers and found that the youngest and oldest patients had the highest risk of disease progression and death. Patients under 40 had a 30% increased risk of dying from the disease compared to 57 year-olds. In addition, patients under 40 had a 28% increased risk of disease-spreading during the first year of follow-up, compared to 61 year-olds.
“We carried out this study to see whether age was associated with time until cancer progresses or the patient dies. We also wanted to get a better picture of the age-response relationship and identify how risk changes as people age, rather than simply comparing one group (patients younger than 40) with another group (patients older than 40),”said Christopher Lieu, MD, a CU Cancer Center investigator and assistant professor at CU’s School of Medicine.
Lieu’s team analyzed information from the 24 phase III clinical trials on patients with colorectal cancer. They also analyzed additional patient data in which patients might be on second or third line treatment, having not responded to their initial therapy.
“Analysis of this incredibly large population of patients has allowed us to answer meaningful questions, such as the outcomes of young versus older patients. Our results show young age is associated with worse overall survival and progression-free survival,” said Lieu. “Young patients with metastatic colorectal cancer represent a group who are at high risk for treatment failure.”
Lieu is currently collaborating with researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in an attempt to discover biological differences between age groups that would account for the higher risk of death from colorectal cancer in people under the age of 40.