Researchers reported a number of important findings in colorectal cancer treatment at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

Combination therapy studied in phase II trial as second-line treatment for KRAS wild-type colorectal cancer

In patients with KRAS wild-type colorectal cancer who received prior treatment with oxaliplatin and bevacizumab, results of a randomized phase II trial showed that progression-free survival may be extended by the combination of cetuximab (an anti-EGFR antibody), ramucirumab (an anti-VEGFR antibody) and the chemotherapy irinotecan.

What Patients Need to Know

Previous trials have shown both cetuximab and ramucirumab have benefit in the treatment of metastatic KRAS wild-type colorectal cancer. The results of this new trial support the fact that these antibodies can be combined for additional benefit in the appropriate patient population.

Monoclonal antibodies may be more effective than chemotherapy in treatment of certain HER2-positive colorectal cancers

Interim data from the randomized phase IIa MyPathway trial showed that the monoclonal antibodies trastuzumab and pertuzumab, given in combination, may work better than the chemotherapies cetuximab and irinotecan (the current standard of care) in treating patients with locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive colorectal cancer that cannot be removed by surgery.

What Patients Need to Know

Monoclonal antibodies such as trastuzumab and pertuzumab are lab-generated molecules that target specific tumor antigens (substances that the immune system sees as being foreign or dangerous).While the MyPathway trial did not yield definitive results, monoclonal antibodies may become a treatment option in the future.

Safety lead-in of phase II trial showed combination of drugs improved progression-free survival in patients with BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer

Results from the safety lead-in of the phase III BEACON CRC trial showed an improvement in progression-free survival in certain patients with BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer when treated with a novel combination of encorafenib (a BRAF inhibitor), binimetinib (an MEK inhibitor) and cetuximab (an anti-EGFR antibody).

The 30 participants had BRAF-mutant metastatic colorectal cancer that had progressed after one or two prior therapy regimens.

What Patients Need to Know

In the safety lead-in, the three-drug combination was generally well-tolerated. Enrollment in the next phase of the BEACON CRC trial is ongoing.

No benefit added when hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy added to surgery in advanced colorectal cancer

A phase III trial showed no difference in survival between patients with advanced colorectal cancer who received heated chemotherapy delivered to the abdomen during surgery and those who received surgery alone.

This was the first randomized trial evaluating the role of heated chemotherapy (also called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) in advanced colorectal cancer.

What Patients Need to Know

The results of the trial suggest that many patients with advanced colorectal cancer can be spared unnecessary chemotherapy and its associated side effects.