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ASCO 2017: Healthy lifestyle after colon cancer diagnosis helps patients live longer

A study of 992 patients with stage III colon cancer found that those who reported a healthy lifestyle during and following adjuvant (post-surgery) treatment had a 42% lower chance of death and a trend for lower chance of cancer recurrence than those who had less healthy lifestyles.

The study will be presented at the upcoming 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“There are over 1.3 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States. These patients need survivorship care, including guidance on what they can do to lower their risk of recurrence,” said lead study author Erin Van Blarigan, ScD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco. “In response to patient interest and need, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published ‘Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors’ in 2012, but it is not known if following the guidelines after cancer diagnosis is associated with improved outcomes.”

This study found that colon cancer patients whose lifestyle matched the ACS guidelines had longer disease-free survival and overall survival.

The patients were part of a clinical trial that enrolled from 1999 to 2001 and looked at the effect of two types of adjuvant chemotherapy for colon cancer on cancer recurrence and death.

Lifestyle was assessed twice as part of the trial using validated surveys.

Patients were assigned a score from 0-6 that measured the degree to which their lifestyle matched the ACS guidelines for cancer survivors.

A score of zero indicated no healthy behaviours while a score of six indicated that the patients observed all of the healthy behaviours.

Specifically, researchers assessed individuals based on recommendations for:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and low in red meat and processed meat

Alcohol use was also included in the assessment as it is included ACS Guidelines for Cancer Prevention.

Each of the healthy behaviours was equally weighted, but assessing dietary components was a bit more complex as the researchers had to score red and processed meat, whole grains, and vegetables and fruits individually and then build an overall dietary score.

Source: ASCO 2017

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Cancer Intelligence