Changing the game with personalised bowel cancer treatment

New research at the Royal Adelaide Hospital has shown a personalised approach to treating bowel cancer significantly improved rates of remission, compared to a one-size-fits-all approach. 

The study shows that the personalised approach to the sequence of cancer treatments, adopted at the RAH in 2018, has a clear benefit to patients. 

Tailored treatment

In the first ever first multicentred study, the researchers compared the outcomes of patients with locally advanced rectal cancer in two main groups: those who had personalised treatment versus historical data of patients who had a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Patients who received a personalised treatment experienced a significantly higher rate of remission, roughly double the rate of compared to the normal treatment group. 

“This means that tailored treatment works better for patients, with improved cancer outcomes and quality of life,” said Associate Professor Tarik Sammour, colorectal surgeon and researcher at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. 

This difference in outcomes shows the benefits for non-surgical treatment options. 

“Surgery is the most toxic element of rectal cancer treatment, and in selected patients, the response from personalised treatment is so good, that surgery can be avoided completely. For some patients that is a huge win,” said A/Prof Sammour. 

Leading the way

Front-loading bowel cancer treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, prior to surgery, is a recent shift in bowel cancer treatment practices. It replaces the traditional sequence of radiation therapy, surgery, and then chemotherapy.  

“We are leading the way in Australia and New Zealand with this treatment and hope to continue to refine the technique and improve it further through evidence-based practice,” said A/Prof Sammour. 

Read the research

Click here to read the published paper.