Pembrolizumab doubles time to disease progression in patients with advanced colorectal cancer with specific DNA mutations

'Immunotherapies like pembrolizumab have proved to be effective as second-line treatments for advanced disease. Now,... we are starting to see significant efficacy for immunotherapies as first-line treatment for advanced cancers with specific genetic signatures...,' said ASCO President Howard Burris

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Front-line therapy with the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) doubled progression-free survival vs chemotherapy in patients with a type of advanced colorectal cancer that has a high number of mutations, which previous research suggests may have a poor prognosis for some patients. This is the first time pembrolizumab has been shown to benefit these patients when used as a front-line therapy.

The findings come from an interim analysis of the phase III KEYNOTE-177 trial that was presented during the virtual scientific programme of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Study at a Glance 

Focus  

 Pembrolizumab as a front-line therapy in patients with microsatellite instability high/mismatch repair deficient (MSI-H/dMMR) metastatic colorectal carcinoma 

Population  

 307 patients with metastatic disease 

Findings  

 Pembrolizumab improved progression-free survival by 8.3 months 

Significance  

 Supports pembrolizumab as the new standard of care as first-line therapy 

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