Colorectal Cancer: A Disease with a Promising Future

The accredited CME learning activity based on this article is offered under the auspices of the CE department of the University of Toronto. Participating physicians are entitled to one (1) MAINPRO-M1 credit by completing this program, found online at

J. A. Maroun, MD, Medical Oncologist, Integrated Cancer Program, The Ottawa Hospital; Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in Canada. In the last decade, there has been significant progress in the management of this disease. Improved understanding of the pathophysiology of colorectal cancer has resulted in the development of more prevention and screening strategies. Adjuvant therapy in high-risk patients has led to an increase in cure rates. For years, 5-fluorouracil was the only drug available for metastatic disease; now, new and effective drugs have been developed, with opportunities for effective second- and third-line therapies as well as new combinations. This has led to an increase in the median survival of patients from six months to over 20 months. Ongoing research with new agents—in particular, biologically targeted drugs—will undoubtedly lead to further improvement in the outcome of this disease.

Key words: colorectal cancer, 5-fluorouracil, colonoscopy, chemotherapy, radiation.