Stage II Chemotherapy

Adjuvant chemotherapy is currently not recommended for stage II colorectal cancer as surgical resection is usually the only treatment necessary.  After a successful surgery for stage II colon cancer, the survival rate after five years is approximately 75%.  In some cases, after your tumor is surgically removed and examined by the pathologist, your medical team may recommend chemotherapy if the tumor appears aggressive.  The likelihood of this is very low, though it is an area of active study.   After examining all of the recent data from stage II adjuvant chemotherapy studies, The American Society of Clinical Oncology has concluded that the risks of adjuvant therapy far outweigh any benefits.  Generally, the research has shown that adjuvant chemotherapy in Stage II colorectal cancer increases the five-year relative survival rate by 5% or less for average risk patients.  To put it simply, the benefit of chemotherapy in Stage II colorectal cancer is so small that it is often not worth the risks of receiving treatment.  You should talk to your doctor about whether they feel the extra risk of undergoing  adjuvant treatment is worth the relatively small benefit. 

Questions you should ask your doctor:

  • What stage is my cancer?

  • In my particular case, what are the benefits of receiving adjuvant chemotherapy?

  • What are the side-effects of adjuvant chemotherapy?

  • If I decide to receive adjuvant chemotherapy, what is my prognosis?

  • If I decide not to receive adjuvant chemotherapy, what is my prognosis?

  • Are there any medical factors related to my overall health that would make it harder for me to undergo adjuvant therapy?

  • Are there any "high-risk" features of my tumor that make it more important for me to consider adjuvant therapy?

  • Given my diagnosis, what are the chemotherapy drug options and schedules of treatment?

  • Are there any clinical trials that may be appropriate for me to consider?

  • Is there anything else I should know to help me make this decision?