Immunotherapy prior to surgery a ‘game-changer’ for bowel cancer

Colon cancer

Phase II trial results have shown the superiority of immunotherapy pembrolizumab over chemotherapy when given before bowel cancer surgery.

The results were presented by researchers at University College London (UCL) and UCLH at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2024.

They are interim results from the NEOPRISM-CRC Phase II clinical trial in patients with stage two or stage three MMR deficient/MSI-High bowel cancer.

The trial was a collaboration between UCL, UCLH, the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, University Hospital Southampton and the University of Glasgow.

Around 10-15% of bowel cancer patients with have MMR deficient/MSI-High bowel cancer, which represents around 2,000-3,000 cases per year in the UK.

Trial results indicate that 59% of patients had no signs of cancer after treatment with pembrolizumab, with any cancer in the remaining 41% of patients removed during surgery.

All of the patients in the trial were cancer-free after treatment and are still cancer-free many months later. The median cancer-free period was 9.7 months and ranged from 5.3 to 19 months among individual patients. When standard care chemotherapy is given to patients with this genetic profile, less than 5% have no signs of cancer after surgery.

Over the next few years, the trial will also assess overall survival and relapse rates.

Professor Mark Saunders, a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Christie, said: “Immunotherapy prior to surgery could well become a ‘game-changer’ for these patients with this type of cancer. Not only is the outcome better, but it saves patients from having more conventional chemotherapy, which often has more side-effects. In the future, immunotherapy may even replace the need for surgery. However, more trials are needed to confirm these exciting early results.”

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

Related Articles

Join FREE today and become a member
of Drug Discovery World

Membership includes:

  • Full access to the website including free and gated premium content in news, articles, business, regulatory, cancer research, intelligence and more.
  • Unlimited App access: current and archived digital issues of DDW magazine with search functionality, special in App only content and links to the latest industry news and information.
  • Weekly e-newsletter, a round-up of the most interesting and pertinent industry news and developments.
  • Whitepapers, eBooks and information from trusted third parties.
Join For Free