BACKGROUND: The standard adjuvant treatment of colon cancer is fluorouracil plus leucovorin (FL). Oxaliplatin improves the efficacy of this combination in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. We evaluated the efficacy of treatment with FL plus oxaliplatin in the postoperative adjuvant setting. METHODS: We randomly assigned 2246 patients who had undergone curative resection for stage II or III colon cancer to receive FL alone or with oxatiplatin for six months. The primary end point was disease-free survival. RESULTS: A total of 1123 patients were randomly assigned to each group. After a median follow-up of 37.9 months, 237 patients in the group given FL plus oxaliplatin had had a cancer-related event, as compared with 293 patients in the FL group (21.1 percent vs. 26.1 percent; hazard ratio for recurrence, 0.77; P=0.002). The rate of disease-free survival at three years was 78.2 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 75.6 to 80.7) in the group given FL plus oxaliplatin and 72.9 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 70.2 to 75.7) in the FL group (P=0.002 by the stratified log-rank test). In the group given FL plus oxaliplatin, the incidence of febrile neutropenia was 1.8 percent, the incidence of gastro-intestinal adverse effects was low, and the incidence of grade 3 sensory neuropathy was 12.4 percent during treatment, decreasing to 1.1 percent at one year of follow-up. Six patients in each group died during treatment (death rate, 0.5 percent). CONCLUSIONS: Adding oxaliplatin to a regimen of fluorouracil and leucovorin improves the adjuvant treatment of colon cancer.
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