Mismatch repair–deficient (dMMR) or microsatellite instability–high (MSI-H) colorectal cancer (CRC) is an advanced form of CRC that is highly responsive to treatment with immunotherapy, especially PD-1 inhibitors. Preliminary research results demonstrate that PD-1 inhibitors are significantly effective cancer treatments, with high response rates and sustained progression-free survival.
A new study investigated the treatment impact of neoadjuvant PD-1 inhibitors on the long-term survival of dMMR CRC patients. The study found that PD-1 inhibitor treatment before surgery was significantly effective among patients with dMMR/MSI-H CRC.
Seventy-three patients with dMMR/MSI-H CRC who had previously been treated with PD-1 inhibitors were included in a retrospective review. The most common locations of primary tumors were in the rectum (24.7%) and ascending colon (24.7%). 79.5% of patients were treated with PD-1 inhibitor alone. The study found:
- Nearly all patients involved in the study benefited from neoadjuvant PD-1 inhibitors, with 25% experiencing complete response.
- 84.9% of patients experienced an objective response, with 61.6% achieving a partial response.
- The two-year tumor-specific overall survival and disease-free survival rates for patients who underwent surgery after PD-1 blockade were both 100%.
These findings are promising for patients with nonmetastatic dMMR/MSI-H CRC, including those with locally advanced disease. Dustin A. Deming, MD, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, stated in an NCCN newsletter, “The treatment of mismatch repair deficient locally-advanced colorectal cancer is a highly active area of research. This retrospective analysis highlights the potential for significant treatment responses with limited toxicities for these patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. It will be exciting to see how these results, and other completed and ongoing studies, will be utilized to incorporate anti-PD1 treatments into the standard-of-care for locally-advanced colorectal cancers.”
To read more about types of immunotherapy drugs and their impact on cancer care, visit Understanding Cancer Immunotherapy Research.
Sahar Alam is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.