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The association of oxaliplatin-containing adjuvant chemotherapy duration with overall and cancer-specific mortality in individuals with stage III colon cancer: a population-based retrospective cohort study


Purpose — Few studies have examined the relationship between duration of oxaliplatin-containing adjuvant chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer and mortality in routine practice. We examined the association between treatment with 50% versus >85% of a maximal course of adjuvant therapy (eight cycles of CAPOX, twelve cycles of FOLFOX) and mortality in stage III colon cancer.

Methods — Using linked databases, we identified Ontarians aged ≥18 years at diagnosis of stage III colon cancer between 2007 and 2019. In the primary comparison, we compared patients who received 50% or >85% of a maximal course of adjuvant therapy; in a secondary comparison, we evaluated a dose effect across patients who received FOLFOX in one-cycle increments from six to ten cycles against >85% (more than ten cycles) of a maximal course of FOLFOX. The main outcomes were overall and cancer-specific mortality. Follow-up began 270 days after adjuvant treatment initiation and terminated at the first of the outcome of interest, loss of eligibility for Ontario’s Health Insurance Program, or study end. Overlap propensity score weights accounted for baseline between-group differences. We determined the hazard ratio, estimating the association between mortality and treatment. Non-inferiority was concluded in the primary comparison for either outcome if the upper limit of the two-sided 95% CI was ≤1.11, which is the margin used in the International Duration Evaluation of Adjuvant Chemotherapy Collaboration.

Results — We included 3546 patients in the analysis of overall mortality; 486 (13.7%) received 50% and 3060 (86.3%) received >85% of a maximal course of therapy. Median follow-up was 5.4 years, and total follow-up was 20,510 person-years. There were 833 deaths. Treatment with 50% of a maximal course of adjuvant therapy was associated with a hazard ratio of 1.13 (95% CI 0.88 to 1.47) for overall mortality and a subdistribution hazard ratio of 1.31 (95% CI 0.91 to 1.87) for cancer-specific mortality versus >85% of a maximal course of therapy. In the secondary comparison, there was a trend toward higher overall mortality in patients treated with shorter durations of therapy, though confidence intervals overlapped considerably.

Conclusion — We could not conclude that treatment with 50% of a maximal course is non-inferior to >85% of a maximal course of adjuvant therapy for mortality in stage III colon cancer. Clinicians and patients engaging in decision-making around treatment duration in this context should carefully consider the trade-off between treatment effectiveness and adverse effects of treatment.



Sue-Chue-Lam C, Brezden-Masley C, Sutradhar R, Yu AYX, Baxter NN. Curr Oncol. 2023; 30(7):6508-32. Epub 2023 Jul 6.

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