Greater levels of inflammation after surgery and prior to chemotherapy associated to poorer survival in stage III colon cancer
A recent study published in JAMA Oncology found that among patients with stage III colon cancer, higher levels of inflammation following surgery but before starting adjuvant (post-surgical) chemotherapy were associated with worse survival outcomes.
Inflammation is a vital part of the body’s defense mechanism to harmful invaders. For example, when we cut our skin the site will begin to inflame: it will turn red, swell, get warm, become painful, and lose function. The process of inflammation acts to remove potentially dangerous invaders, such as bacteria, and initiate the healing process. Inflammation that occurs in response to injury is known as acute inflammation.
Inflammation, however, has been found to be an important part of cancer development. The environment that immediately surrounds a tumour, known as the tumour microenvironment, is largely driven by inflammatory cells which participate in the cell proliferation and survival process.
A total of 1,494 patients with stage III colon cancer were involved in the study. Levels of inflammatory biomarkers, or proteins that serve as indicators of inflammation in the body, were measured 3-8 weeks after patients underwent surgery but before they received adjuvant chemotherapy. Higher levels of these inflammatory biomarkers prior to adjuvant therapy were associated with poorer disease-free survival, recurrence-free survival, and overall survival.
The study found that higher inflammation after diagnosis was significantly associated with worse survival outcomes in patients with stage III colon cancer. Future research will focus on investigating whether interventions aimed at reducing inflammation after surgery may improve colon cancer outcomes.