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Drug Combination Slows Colorectal Cancer, Temporarily Shrinks Tumors

September 28, 2000

In an advance against end-stage colorectal cancer, researchers have found that combining a new drug called Camptosar with the standard ones can more effectively slow the cancer and prolong victims' lives slightly. Dr. Leonard B. Saltz of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York tested Camptosar (generic name irinotecan) together with the standard drugs, fluorouracil and leucovorin, in patients with Stage IV colorectal cancer.

The three-drug combination increased average survival from 13 months to 15 months, and the share of patients whose tumors temporarily shrank went from 28% to 50%, compared with the standard treatment, the researchers reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine. In addition, far fewer patients suffered two serious side effects--one a life-threatening decrease in white blood cells.

--Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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