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Breakthrough made in treatment of bowel cancer

16th May 2011

Medical experts have made a significant breakthrough in the fight against bowel cancer by enabling older patients to take part in clinical trials.

A study carried out by Cancer Research UK and published in the Lancet medical journal found that it may be possible for people over the age of 75 to take part in trials if doses of experimental chemotherapy drugs are lowered to reduce the risk of harmful side-effects.

As 60 per cent of deaths from bowel cancer occur in people aged over 75, this could have a substantial effect on lowering mortality rates, explained Matt Seymour, Cancer Research UK's professor of gastrointestinal cancer medicine, based at the University of Leeds.

'Most trials of cancer treatments involve younger, fitter patients. These results should go some way towards ensuring that more elderly patients are offered the chance to take part in research in the future,' he added.

Earlier this month, scientists at Breakthrough Breast Cancer identified three genes which play an important role in the development of breast cancer and may now lead to the development of new treatments for the disease.

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