Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 887–898 | Cite as

Current Issues in Adjuvant Treatment of Stage II Colon Cancer

  • Thierry André
  • Daniel Sargent
  • Josep Tabernero
  • Michael O’Connell
  • Marc Buyse
  • Alberto Sobrero
  • Jean-Louis Misset
  • Corrado Boni
  • Aimery de Gramont



Adjuvant chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil modulated by folinic acid, combined with oxaliplatin, has now become an accepted standard of care for patients with stage III colon cancer. In contrast, the use of adjuvant therapy for stage II patients remains controversial, and the identification of reliable prognostic factors to aid therapeutic decision making is crucial.


The authors critically review the results of clinical trials and meta-analyses investigating the value of adjuvant chemotherapy for stage II patients, emphasizing the heterogeneous nature of this population and the difficulty of performing clinical trials with sufficient power to reliably assess treatment efficacy. They also discuss the evidence concerning potential prognostic factors, particularly molecular markers.


Available clinical trial data do not support the routine use of adjuvant chemotherapy for all stage II patients but suggest that it should be considered, particularly for certain high-risk patients. Recent guidelines advocate considering factors such as tumor differentiation, tumor perforation, number of lymph nodes examined, and T stage when assessing the likely benefit:risk ratio. Microsatellite instability and allelic imbalance seem to be strong predictors of good and poor prognosis, respectively, and in the near future, therapeutic decision-making models are likely to be further refined by the inclusion of such molecular markers.


There is growing evidence that the prognosis of certain stage II patients with unfavorable prognostic factors can be improved by adjuvant chemotherapy, and increasingly refined tools are now available to define those most likely to benefit. Referral of stage II patients for individual assessment is strongly recommended.


Colon cancer, stage II Adjuvant chemotherapy 5-Fluorouracil Leucovorin Oxaliplatin 



This article was derived from discussions at a meeting on adjuvant therapy of colon cancer organized by Aimery de Gramont, with financial support from Sanofi-Synthelabo, in September 2003. The authors thank Paula Harry (MediBridge, France) for medical writing support.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thierry André
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Daniel Sargent
    • 4
  • Josep Tabernero
    • 5
  • Michael O’Connell
    • 6
  • Marc Buyse
    • 7
  • Alberto Sobrero
    • 8
  • Jean-Louis Misset
    • 9
  • Corrado Boni
    • 10
  • Aimery de Gramont
    • 2
    • 3
    • 11
  1. 1.Service d’Oncologie MédicaleHôpital TenonParis Cedex 20France
  2. 2.CancerEst, Hôpital Saint AntoineParis Cedex 12France
  3. 3.GERCOR (Franch Oncology Research Group)ParisFrance
  4. 4.Mayo ClinicRochester
  5. 5.Vall d’Hebron University HospitalBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.NSABP Foundation Research ProgramPittsburgh
  7. 7.IDDIBelgium
  8. 8.Ospedale S. MartinoGenovaItaly
  9. 9.Hôpital Saint-LouisParisFrance
  10. 10.Arcispedale S. Maria BuovaRegio EmiliaItaly
  11. 11.Hôpital Saint-AntoineParis Cedex 12France

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