Survival differences with immediate versus delayed chemotherapy for asymptomatic incurable metastatic colorectal cancer

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Abstract

Background: For patients with asymptomatic, incurable, metastatic colorectal cancer, palliative, systemic treatment can be started immediately, or can be delayed until disease-related symptoms occur. How the potential survival benefit of starting palliative, systemic treatment immediately after diagnosis weighs up against the potential side effects is currently under debate, and was investigated in this review. Objectives: To assess the effects of immediate versus delayed chemotherapy, with or without targeted therapy, on overall survival, toxicity, quality of life, progression-free survival, and compliance with chemotherapy for individuals with asymptomatic, metastatic, incurable colorectal cancer. Search methods: We searched CENTRAL; 2018, Issue 8, MEDLINE Ovid, Embase Ovid, PsycINFO, the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and Clinicaltrials.gov, from inception to 23 August 2018. We did not apply limitations based on language or date of publication. We searched the reference lists of all included studies to identify trials that may not have been identified from the electronic searches. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials evaluating immediate versus delayed chemotherapy in persons with asymptomatic, metastatic, incurable colorectal cancer. Data collection and analysis: We applied standard methodological procedures, according to the recommendations of Cochrane and Cochrane Colorectal Cancer. Two review authors independently reviewed the studies identified by literature searches, selected relevant trials, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias of the included studies. We used the Cochrane tool to assess risk of bias, Review Manager 5 software for meta-analysis, GRADE methods to evaluate the quality of the evidence, and GRADEpro GDT software to develop a 'Summary of findings' table. Main results: We included three randomised controlled trials (351 participants) investigating immediate versus delayed chemotherapy in people diagnosed with asymptomatic, metastatic, incurable colorectal cancer. Giving immediate versus delayed chemotherapy may make little or no difference to overall survival (hazard ratio (HR) 1.17, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93 to 1.46; 3 studies, 351 persons; low-quality evidence). For toxicity, giving immediate versus delayed chemotherapy may make little or no difference to the risk of grade 3 or 4 nausea and vomiting (risk ratio (RR) 0.84, 95% CI 0.31 to 2.25; 2 studies, 140 persons; very low-quality evidence), stomatitis (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.47 to 2.55; 2 studies, 140 persons; very low-quality evidence), or diarrhoea (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.34 to 1.40; 2 studies, 140 persons, very low-quality evidence). We are uncertain whether delayed chemotherapy made a difference to quality of life (very low-quality evidence), progression-free survival (low-quality evidence), or compliance with chemotherapy (low-quality evidence), as we had insufficient data to pool for these outcomes. Authors' conclusions: Based on a limited number of trials, very sparse data, and uncertainty of the evidence, this review was unable to establish whether there was a difference in overall survival or other clinically relevant outcomes, between immediate or delayed chemotherapy in persons with metastatic, incurable, colorectal cancer. The results should be interpreted with caution.

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Claassen, Y. H. M., van der Valk, M. J. M., Breugom, A. J., Frouws, M. A., Bastiaannet, E., Liefers, G. J., … Kapiteijn, E. (2018, November 21). Survival differences with immediate versus delayed chemotherapy for asymptomatic incurable metastatic colorectal cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012326.pub2

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