March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Main Line Health reminds all members of the community to be proactive in preventing and screening for colorectal cancer. Moreover, recent studies demonstrate that colorectal cancers are becoming increasingly prevalent among younger people.
“Colorectal cancer remains one of the nation’s leading causes of cancer deaths,” said John Marks, MD, chief of colorectal surgery at Main Line Health and world-renowned colorectal surgeon. “Fortunately, it is a highly treatable disease. Colonoscopy can find and remove precancerous polyps to avoid developing colorectal cancer at all. When found and treated early, the five-year survival rate is close to 90 percent.”
Dr. Marks advises everyone to get screened regularly, and talk to your doctor about risk and prevention. “At Main Line Health, we offer advanced technology and clinical trials that can save lives and preserve bowel function,” he said.
Main Line Health’s Lankenau Institute for Medical Research conducts cancer clinical research to help identify potential treatment options for those who have been diagnosed with the disease. Patients with colon or rectal cancer may qualify to participate in one of four ongoing research studies at Main Line Health:
- Transanal Total Mesorectal Excision (taTME) is a surgical technique that uses a so-called “bottom-up approach” in which dissection of the affected tissues is done transanally rather than through the abdomen. The purpose of this therapeutic rectal cancer trial is to discover whether taTME is effective compared to the standard laparoscopic robotic technique. This national study is based on a procedure developed and first performed by Dr. Marks and his team.
- Study #A021502 is for patients who’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and have a deficient DNA mismatch repair confirmed by their physicians. There are two study arms to this trial. Participants in both are administered chemotherapy. Those in Arm 1 also receive atezolizumab, an immunotherapy drug given intravenously.
- Study #S1613 is an experimental treatment trial for those diagnosed with locally advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer that has progressed while the patient is on traditional treatment. If these tumors are determined by clinicians to be HER-2 amplified, a patient may be eligible for this trial. There are two study arms: One group of patients receives Herceptin (trastuzumab) and pertuzumab, a monoclonal antibody. The other group receives the monoclonal antibody cetuximab and the drug irinotecan hydrochloride.
- Study #S0820 seeks to determine if an experimental treatment combination will be effective in reducing the recurrence of stages 0 through 3 colon cancer. The drugs being tested include eflornithine and sulindac.
“By participating in a clinical research trial, eligible patients gain access to potential new treatments or therapeutic practices before they are available to the general public, advance medical knowledge, and help others who may develop or have similar diseases or conditions,” adds Dr. Marks.
Main Line Health is proud to be a National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), one of only 34 community sites in the United States. NCORP provides patients with access to NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials studying screening, prevention, and symptom management.
Patients interested in participating in clinical trials at a Main Line Health hospital should speak with their physicians. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 484.476.2649 to find out if there’s a clinical research trial available. For additional information about clinical trials at Main Line Health, or for information about colorectal cancer and its treatment, visit mainlinehealth.org.