Skip Navigation

Following health guidelines may aid colon cancer patient survival

  • Researchers have long known that good health practices can help people to prevent the development of many types of cancer. A multi-institutional study led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists now has demonstrated that healthy lifestyles significantly boosted survival among patients treated with surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer.

    Colon cancer patients who rigorously followed American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines for weight, diet, and exercise were 42 percent more likely to survive than those who were not able to follow the guidelines. The findings were released online today ahead of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, June 2-6, 2017.

    “Our findings show that a healthy lifestyle, including diet and physical activity, are associated with improved outcomes in colon cancer patients,” said senior author Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Center.

    The study tracked 992 patients in the CALGB 89803 (Alliance) clinical trial for a median period of seven years. It assessed patient lifestyles with the ACS Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors. Those guidelines include healthy body weight; a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and low in red meat and processed meat; and physical activity equivalent to walking for at least an hour a day five days a week.

    The better that patients achieved these healthy practices, the higher their success rates not just for overall survival but for disease-free survival, Meyerhardt said.

    Separately at the ASCO meeting, another lifestyle analysis of CALGB 89803 participants linked the consumption of nuts to significantly lower risks of disease recurrence and death.

    “It’s important to keep in mind, however, that healthy lifestyle practices are additional treatment considerations, rather than substitutes for standard treatment,” Meyerhardt emphasized. “Colon cancer survivors should talk with their doctors about what would be optimal to help improve their outcomes.”

    Co-authors on the study from Dana-Farber include Robert Mayer, MD, and Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, MS.


Posted on May 17, 2017

  • Research
  • Survivorship
  • Colon Cancer
  • Jeffrey_Meyerhardt_SOG_6078_13

    Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH