Preoperative iron is frequently used for the correction of anaemia in colorectal cancer surgery. However, enteral iron intake may promote tumour growth and progression which could influence cancer recurrence and patient survival. We explore the long term outcomes of patients receiving either oral or intravenous iron replacement therapy as part of a previous randomised controlled trial.
The IVICA trial randomised anaemic colorectal cancer patients to receive either oral (OI, control) or intravenous (IVI, treatment) iron prior to their elective operation. Follow up analysis of all patients recruited to this multicentre trial who underwent surgical resection with curative intent was performed. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates, and Cox proportional hazard models were used to compare groups. A pooled group multivariable analysis comparing patients who achieved resolution of anaemia preoperatively to those who did not was also undertaken.
110 of the 116 patients previously enrolled were eligible for analysis (OI n=56, IVI n=54). Median overall follow up duration was 61 months (IQR 46-67). No significant difference in 5-year overall survival (HR 1.22, 95% CI 0.65-2.28 P=0.522) or disease free survival (HR 1.08, 95% CI 0.61-1.92 P=0.79) was observed between OI and IVI. Pooled analysis of treatment groups found that preoperative resolution of anaemia led to improved 5 year overall survival on multivariable analysis (HR 3.38 [1.07-11.56, P=0.044).
We recommend IVI for the preoperative correction of anaemia. Route of iron therapy did not significantly influence survival. Preoperative anaemia correction may lead to an overall survival advantage following elective colorectal cancer surgery.

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