Colon cancer is the cancer of large intestine which form the lower part of the digestive system. The disease usually begins with a small, benign clusters of cells known as adenomatous polyps. If left untreated, these polyps may result into colon cancer. Therefore, regular screening for polyps through colonoscopy in order to prevent it transforming to colon cancer is recommended. Change in bowel habits or blood in stool are the major symptoms of colon cancer. Attributable epidemiological factors can be precancerous growth in the colon or genetic mutation. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends patients affected with colon cancer, for testing of genetic mutation in the KRAS gene which accounts for about 30% to 40% of colon tumors.
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There are three primary recommended therapies for treating colon cancer – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Surgical procedures such as colonoscopy, endoscopic mucosal resection, colectomy and laparoscopy are preferred in early-stage and invasive colon cancer treatment therapy. Besides, chemotherapy involves administration of drugs that destroy cancer cells, usually recommended after the surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence. In addition, targeted drugs such as bevacizumab (Avastin), cetuximab (Erbitux), panitumumab (Vectibix) and regorafenib (Stivarga) are administered to patients with advanced colon cancer. Radiation therapy utilizes powerful X-ray radiations to kill the cancer cells left after surgery, shrink large tumors before the surgery or relieve symptoms of colon cancer. Usually combined with chemotherapy, radiation therapy aids in reducing the risk of recurrence.
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed and second leading cause of cancer in the U.S. Rising incidences of colon cancer and high pricing of products have attracted pharmaceutical companies to develop and market new products. Healthcare practitioners are now cautioned with the cost-benefit ratio of colon cancer drugs owing to large presence and high pricing of products in this market. Extensive research and development in this field is expected to provide better and more effective medications in the future.
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Some of the key players contributing to this market include Bedford Laboratories, Sanofi Aventis, Bayer AG, GlaxoSmithKline plc and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
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