Immunotherapy Drug Could Triple Survival Rates for Bowel Cancer

Immunotherapy Drug Could Triple Survival Rates for Bowel Cancer

Research led by University College London (UCL) has shown that the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda, could significantly improve survival rates for patients with a specific type of bowel cancer. The NEOPRISM-CRC phase II clinical trial, involving 32 patients from five NHS hospitals across the UK, focused on those with stage two or stage three MMR deficient/MSI-High bowel cancer. Results presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2024 revealed that over 50% of patients treated with pembrolizumab before surgery showed no signs of cancer post-operation, compared to just 4% of those who received pre-operative chemotherapy.

The study suggests that pembrolizumab could potentially allow patients to avoid both surgery and post-operative chemotherapy, which are typically associated with severe side effects. This could lead to a paradigm shift in the treatment of this bowel cancer subtype, offering a less invasive and more effective alternative. However, researchers, including Dr. Kai-Keen Shiu from UCL Cancer Institute, have indicated that further research is necessary to confirm the long-term efficacy of this treatment approach. If future trials corroborate these findings, pembrolizumab could become a standard treatment for MMR deficient/MSI-High bowel cancer, providing a significant improvement in patient outcomes.

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