Stage II Colon Cancer Treatment
Standard Treatment Options for Stage II Colon Cancer
Standard treatment options for stage II colon cancer include the following:
- Wide surgical resection and anastomosis.
Evidence (laparoscopic techniques):
The role of laparoscopic techniques [1-4] in the treatment of colon cancer was examined in a multicenter, prospective, randomized trial (NCCTG-934653, now closed) comparing laparoscopic-assisted colectomy (LAC) to open colectomy.
- Three-year recurrence rates and 3-year overall survival (OS) rates were similar in the two groups. (Refer to the Primary Surgical Therapy section in the Treatment Option Overview section of this summary for more information.)
- The quality-of-life component of this trial has been published and minimal short-term quality-of-life benefits with LAC were reported.[Level of evidence: 1iiC]
Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation
The potential value of adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with stage II colon cancer remains controversial. Although subgroups of patients with stage II colon cancer may be at higher-than-average risk for recurrence (including those with anatomic features such as tumor adherence to adjacent structures, perforation, complete obstruction),[5-7] evidence is inconsistent that adjuvant 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)–based chemotherapy is associated with an improved OS compared with surgery alone.
Features in patients with stage II colon cancer that are associated with an increased risk of recurrence include the following:
- Inadequate lymph node sampling.
- T4 disease.
- Involvement of the visceral peritoneum.
- A poorly differentiated histology.
The decision to use adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with stage II colon cancer is complicated and requires thoughtful consideration by both patients and their physicians. Adjuvant therapy is not indicated for most patients unless they are entered into a clinical trial.
Evidence (adjuvant chemotherapy):
- The GRECCR-03 and NCRI-QUASAR1 trials evaluated the use of systemic or regional chemotherapy or biologic therapy. Following surgery, patients should be considered for entry into a carefully controlled clinical trial.
- Investigators from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) have indicated that the reduction in risk of recurrence by adjuvant therapy in patients with stage II disease is of similar magnitude to the benefit seen in patients with stage III disease treated with adjuvant therapy, though an OS advantage has not been established.
- A meta-analysis of 1,000 stage II patients whose experience was amalgamated from a series of trials indicates a 2% advantage in disease-free survival at 5 years when adjuvant therapy–treated patients treated with 5-FU-leucovorin are compared with untreated controls.[Level of evidence: 1iiDii]; 
- The Cancer Care Ontario Practice Guideline Initiative Gastrointestinal Cancer Disease Site Group undertook a meta-analysis of the English language–published literature consisting of randomized trials in which adjuvant chemotherapy was compared with observation for patients with stage II colon cancer.
- The mortality risk ratio was 0.87 (95% confidence interval, 0.75–1.01; P = .07).
Based on these data, the American Society of Clinical Oncology issued a guideline stating “direct evidence from randomized controlled trials does not support the routine use of adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with stage II colon cancer.”
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage II colon cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
- Bokey EL, Moore JW, Chapuis PH, et al.: Morbidity and mortality following laparoscopic-assisted right hemicolectomy for cancer. Dis Colon Rectum 39 (10 Suppl): S24-8, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Franklin ME Jr, Rosenthal D, Abrego-Medina D, et al.: Prospective comparison of open vs. laparoscopic colon surgery for carcinoma. Five-year results. Dis Colon Rectum 39 (10 Suppl): S35-46, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Fleshman JW, Nelson H, Peters WR, et al.: Early results of laparoscopic surgery for colorectal cancer. Retrospective analysis of 372 patients treated by Clinical Outcomes of Surgical Therapy (COST) Study Group. Dis Colon Rectum 39 (10 Suppl): S53-8, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Weeks JC, Nelson H, Gelber S, et al.: Short-term quality-of-life outcomes following laparoscopic-assisted colectomy vs open colectomy for colon cancer: a randomized trial. JAMA 287 (3): 321-8, 2002. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Lanza G, Matteuzzi M, Gafá R, et al.: Chromosome 18q allelic loss and prognosis in stage II and III colon cancer. Int J Cancer 79 (4): 390-5, 1998. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Jen J, Kim H, Piantadosi S, et al.: Allelic loss of chromosome 18q and prognosis in colorectal cancer. N Engl J Med 331 (4): 213-21, 1994. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Merkel S, Wein A, Günther K, et al.: High-risk groups of patients with Stage II colon carcinoma. Cancer 92 (6): 1435-43, 2001. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Moertel CG, Fleming TR, Macdonald JS, et al.: Intergroup study of fluorouracil plus levamisole as adjuvant therapy for stage II/Dukes' B2 colon cancer. J Clin Oncol 13 (12): 2936-43, 1995. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Mamounas E, Wieand S, Wolmark N, et al.: Comparative efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with Dukes' B versus Dukes' C colon cancer: results from four National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project adjuvant studies (C-01, C-02, C-03, and C-04) J Clin Oncol 17 (5): 1349-55, 1999. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Efficacy of adjuvant fluorouracil and folinic acid in B2 colon cancer. International Multicentre Pooled Analysis of B2 Colon Cancer Trials (IMPACT B2) Investigators. J Clin Oncol 17 (5): 1356-63, 1999. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Harrington DP: The tea leaves of small trials. J Clin Oncol 17 (5): 1336-8, 1999. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Figueredo A, Charette ML, Maroun J, et al.: Adjuvant therapy for stage II colon cancer: a systematic review from the Cancer Care Ontario Program in evidence-based care's gastrointestinal cancer disease site group. J Clin Oncol 22 (16): 3395-407, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Benson AB 3rd, Schrag D, Somerfield MR, et al.: American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations on adjuvant chemotherapy for stage II colon cancer. J Clin Oncol 22 (16): 3408-19, 2004. [PUBMED Abstract]