Chemotherapy and supportive care are a winning combination

Gastrointestinal cancer, including colorectal, is one of the most common groups of cancers to claim Western lives.

Research is continuously conducted to determine the most effective ways to treat these cancers, taking into account both survival and quality of life. This includes research into supportive care, which included social, psychological and spiritual care as well as palliative medical treatment.

A recent review of the evidence for supportive care in addition to chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone for gastrointestinal cancer concluded that a combination of certain types of chemotherapyand supportive care, provide the best outcomes in terms of survival and quality of life.

Supportive care and palliative care are newly developing fields. Their definition and administration vary significantly from country to country and even within one country. This is apparent in the trials in the review. However, the evidence in this systematic review makes an important contribution towards developing definitive, uniform standards for comprehensive supportive care.

The Cochrane Library - Issue 3 of 2004 is published this week by Wiley, and this newsletter highlights some of the key health care conclusions reached by new Cochrane reviews and their implications for practice.

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