COVID-19 and Colorectal Cancer Get The Facts

Gastrointestinal Highlights from last month’s ASCO 2020 Meeting

June 28, 2020

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting at the end of last month online and presented various findings that are likely to have a positive impact on colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment in the near future.

One study looked at the treatment of rectal cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes with a high-dose of FOLFIRINOX (5-FU, irinotecan, oxaliplatin) chemotherapy given before any other standard therapy. The trial aimed to create a more tailored approach to how rectal cancer is managed by using tumour response to the initial, short and intensive (induction) chemotherapy as a predictor of the aggressiveness of the cancer. The researchers found that personalizing the standard rectal cancer treatment based on initial response to induction chemotherapy was a safe and promising practice, and helped patients to receive the most appropriate and effective therapy.

Another study examined the impact of a new drug T-DXd (trastuzumab deruxtecan), which is approved for use in metastatic breast cancer but is beginning to be tested in CRC that is positive for the tumour marker HER2. So far, it is showing promising response rates in this subset of CRC patients.

The last study presented formidable results in the treatment of microsatellite instability high (MSI-H) metastatic CRC with immunotherapy. The immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda) was compared to standard-of-care chemotherapy as the initial therapy, showing better survival outcomes and a reduction in side effects.

Findings from the ASCO 20 Meeting are promising and point toward a future focused on more personalized approaches to CRC treatment, taking into account each patients’ unique disease.

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