Among patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosed in the United States, 37.2% are diagnosed with stage III and 27.9% with stage II disease. In locoregionally advanced CRC, surgery is the primary treatment modality and has a curative intent. The survival depends on the pathologic stage and varies from 30%-60% for stage III to 60%-80% for stage II. However, as much as 40%-50% of patients will relapse and require additional treatment of the disease. Clinical failure after resection of CRC is predominantly secondary to the clinical progression of previously undetected distant metastatic disease. Until very recently, the absolute benefit for survival obtained with adjuvant therapy compared with control was about 6%. Introduction of oxaliplatin in the adjuvant setting has shown a reduction of 23% in the risk of relapse when compared with 5-fluorouracil alone (MOSAIC). Recent phase III studies have shown that targeted agents improved survival in patients with advanced-stage CRC. Bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting vascular endothelial growth factor, is the first antiangiogenic drug to show improved efficacy when used in combination with irinotecan and oxaliplatin for first- and second-line treatment of CRC. Cetuximab, another monoclonal antibody targeting epidermal growth factor receptor, has shown efficacy in third-line therapy and promising results in first-line phase II studies. There is great interest in whether the biologic agents bevacizumab and cetuximab can improve survival in the adjuvant-therapy setting. This article reviews the adjuvant therapy for colon cancer and discusses the potential role and current trials involving the targeted agents.
Clinical Colorectal Cancer, Vol. 6, No. 1, 46–51, 2006