At the virtual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in May/June 2020, promising results from the interim analysis of phase 3 data from the KEYNOTE-177 trial were presented during the plenary session. First-line treatment of a subset of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab doubled the median progression-free survival (PFS) compared to patients treated with standard-of-care chemotherapy. This has now led to an FDA approval for the drug.

Trial Results

KEYNOTE-177 was designed as a global, multicenter, open-label, active-controlled, randomized trial that compared treatment of 307 previously untreated patients with microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) mCRC. Mismatch repair is an inherent property of cells that allows them to correct DNA replication errors, and dMMR cell lack this process, resulting in mutations in the DNA. dMMR cells with alterations in short, repetitive DNA sequences are called MSI-H.  Patients were randomized to receive first-line pembrolizumab alone at 200 mg every 3 weeks for up to 2 years or investigator’s choice chemotherapy: FOLFOX (fluorouracil [5-FU], leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) or FOLFIRI (5-FU, leucovorin, and irinotecan) every 2 weeks, with or without bevacizumab or cetuximab.

This was a crossover trial, meaning patients on chemotherapy could cross over to receive pembrolizumab for up to 35 cycles if their disease had progressed. Primary end points were PFS and overall survival (OS); objective response rate (ORR) was the secondary endpoint.

Median PFS was 16.5 months in the pembrolizumab group and 8.2 months in the chemotherapy group. Pembrolizumab showed a 40% reduction in the risk of disease progression (P=0.0002); PFS rates were 55% vs 37% for pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy, respectively, at 12 months, and 48% vs 19%, respectively, at 24 months. ORR were 43.8% and 33.1%, respectively. While the median duration of response was 10.6 months for chemotherapy (2.8-37.5 months), it had not been reached with pembrolizumab (2.3-41.4 months). Complete responses were achieved in 11.1% and 3.9% patients receiving pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy, partial responses were achieved in 32.7% vs 29.2%, respectively.

Only 22% of patients in the pembrolizumab arm had treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) compared to 66% in the chemotherapy arm. One TRAE death was reported in the chemotherapy arm.

The study is ongoing and OS data are expected to be presented at a later time.

FDA Approval

The above results have led to the FDA approval of pembrolizumab in previously untreated patients with MSI-H/dMMR mCRC. Importantly, this is the first immunotherapy to receive FDA-approval as first line of care in this patient population.

Many therapies have been proposed in the continuous fight against colon cancer. Some of these therapies have proven to be more effective than others. One of the more promising therapies for treating colon cancer is immunotherapy. It is a much more holistic approach than many other treatment methods and helps the patient’s body fight cancer on its own. Here is what you should know about the benefits and challenges of treating colon cancer with immunotherapy.

In 2019, an estimated 100,000 of new cases of colon cancer emerged. Numbers like that might not seem like a lot, but when you start looking at the big picture, say, 100,000 cases of colon cancer per year, you can see a trend of 1,000,000 cases in ten years. One hundred thousand might seem trivial, but a million people is like the population of a small country, and when you look at the mortality rates, the picture gets even more interesting.

This is why colon cancer awareness is so important. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and start talking about your family history and get screened. Prevention is crucial, and being proactive is the key to prevention. One of the best things you can do for yourself aside from committing to regular screenings is to learn more about the most effective treatments. One of the most intriguing treatment methodologies to date is immunotherapy.

What to Know About colon Cancer Prevention and Immunotherapy

Most immunotherapy methodologies focus on leveraging the patient’s own body to actively seek out, identify, and destroy cancer cells. It works by empowering your own immune system and helping it root out any cancer cells before they cause you any more trouble.

Immunotherapy has displayed impressive success rates when used to treat certain types of cancer including a type of lung cancer and skin cancer. Less is known about immunotherapy’s potential to combat colon cancer.

For those who are afflicted with colon cancer, immunotherapy shows the most promise to patients who exhibit something called mismatch repair deficiency. Patients with mismatch repair deficiency are prone to abnormal rates of mutations including the types of cells that contribute to colon cancer.

This serves to highlight the importance of knowing more about your genetics. Some people are afraid to investigate their genetic predisposition because of the fear of actually being predisposed. No one wants to hear that they are genetically susceptible to contracting colon cancer. As difficult to hear as it may be, information is your best friend in these situations. If you’re genetically predisposed to getting colon cancer, you can focus on prevention to decrease your chances of contracting the disease.

Is Immunotherapy Right for You?

One thing that you should know about immunotherapy is that it’s widely considered to be the last line of defense, or offense, depending on how you look at it. Chemotherapy and surgery are the two most commonly used treatment options. They are used at both to combat colon cancer in both the early and late stages of the disease. It’s only when both surgery and chemotherapy have failed that immunotherapy comes into play.

When colon cancer is caught relatively early, surgery has a fairly high success rate as a treatment. When other treatments have failed, immunotherapy is typically used. There is a lot to learn about immunotherapy and a lot more developments underway. One day, immunotherapy may be considered to be a much more promising treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen organizations from across the globe – who individually have made a significant impact in the fight to end colorectal cancer – are joining together in solidarity #atadistance to let their collective communities know that even in the wake of a global pandemic they are unified in and fiercely committed to saving, improving, and extending the lives of millions at risk for or living with the world’s third cancer killer.
‎#InThisTogether‎, #AllInThisTogether

On Tuesday, June 9th, these organizations will collectively celebrate and lift up the over 4.6 million colorectal cancer survivors around the world and reach out to the thousands who are newly diagnosed every day to offer a message of hope.

Colorectal cancer hasn’t stopped for COVID-19. “We know patients and caregivers affected by this disease need our support now more than ever.”Cindy Borassi, Colon Cancer Foundation, “And, we are here to help those most affected by CRC navigate cancer in the weeks and months to come.”

 AliveAndKickn                                                          Aliveandkickn.org

Beat Liver Tumors                                                    beatlivertumors.org

Blue Hat Foundation                                                bluehatbowtie.org

Colorectal Cancer Canada                                      colorectalcancercanada.com

Colon Cancer Coalition                                            coloncancercoalition.org

Colon Cancer Foundation                                       coloncancerfoundation.org

Colon Cancer Prevention Project                           coloncancerpreventionproject.org/

Colon Cancer Stars                                                  colonstars.org

Colorectal Cancer Alliance                                      ccalliance.org

Colontown                                                                 colontown.org

Fight Colorectal Cancer                                           fightcrc.org

GI Cancers Alliance                                                  GICancersAlliance.org

Michael’s Mission                                                     michaelsmission.org

Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation  minnesotacolorectal.org

The Raymond Foundation                                       TheRaymondFoundation.org

The Colon Club                                                         colonclub.org

The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation    wunderglofoundation.org

 

Team Covid Letter Pic

A LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY OF PATIENTS, SURVIVORS AND CAREGIVERS

Last updated March 18, 2020

Dear Friends,

Here at the Colon Cancer Foundation we are thinking of our community of colorectal cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and loved ones during this trying time. Your health, safety, quality of life, and well-being are our top priorities.

The new strain of coronavirus, or COVID-19, is disrupting the lives of millions in the United States and in countries across the world. Many of our closest partners in the fight against colorectal cancer are now being asked to join the race against time to ensure their local health care communities are ready and to the slow the spread of COVID-19. Researchers, public health officials, health systems and individual clinicians are all playing a role in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.

While they wage the clinical battle against COVID-19 we strongly encourage you to take action to slow the spread, #flattenthecurve, and reduce your risk of contracting the virus. Anyone can get the new coronavirus, the virus does not discriminate on the basis of sex, health, age nor gender – anyone can get it.

However, cancer patients and survivors have an increased risk of complications and severe events from COVID-19 due to treatments that suppress the immune system. “…patients with any type of advanced cancer are going to be at much higher risk for bad outcomes,” according to Paul A. Volberding, MD, Chief Medical Editor of Infectious Disease News.

ASCO and Cancernet.com published an article yesterday, “Coronavirus 2019: What People With Cancer Need to Know”. Dr. Merry Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP addressed the following question: Are there special precautions that people with cancer should take?

“People with cancer, people who are in active cancer treatment, older patients, and people with other serious chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease, may be at higher risk for the more severe form of COVID-19. The same rules apply for people with cancer as for those without cancer: Be sure to wash your hands well, and wash them frequently. Avoid touching your face, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

“People who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 should avoid cruise-ship travel and all other non-essential travel during this time of COVID-19 outbreak. Stay at home as much as possible to reduce exposure to other people. It is safest to avoid social gatherings. In order to stay connected to your support system, make plans to connect with your family and friends virtually, through video chat or phone calls.

“Be sure to have enough essential medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, to last for up to a month. Create an emergency contact list that includes family, friends, neighbors, and community or neighborhood resources who may be able to provide information or assistance to you if you need it.

“Finally, if you are scheduled for cancer treatments during the COVID-19 outbreak, have a discussion with your oncologist about the benefits and risks of continuing or delaying treatment.”

We encourage you to visit these websites for the most current information and guidance:

We also strongly encourage you to take action to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. For more information please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

We know the constant COVID-19 updates, including news reports, travel restrictions, concerns for your own and your loved ones’ health can lead to fear and anxiety. For some tips on staying healthy emotionally, mentally and physically you can visit these three websites:

https://adaa.org/tips

https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/covid-19-anxiety/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

What the Colon Cancer Foundation is doing:

We have been working nonstop to keep our community up to date and as healthy as possible.

This unforeseen and ever evolving situation requires us to adapt however it also gives us the opportunity to innovate. We are exploring technology that will offer us a virtual option to keep our 17 year signature event – the Colon Cancer Challenge – and our critical work in the fight against colorectal cancer laser focused and moving forward. COVID-19 does not lessen or change the needs of our community – over 1,000 people will lose their lives to colorectal cancer this week alone.

We remain committed to our mission, to you and to the thousands who are battling colorectal cancer right now.

On behalf of everyone here at Team Colon Cancer Challenge take care of yourself and your loved ones. We will get through this together.

Cindy Borassi

Interim President

Colon Cancer Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated March 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we continue to monitor developments regarding COVID-19, we hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

This situation is evolving daily and will continue to impact our communities in evolving ways. Yet, we take comfort in knowing that we have incredible people like you who are compassionate, resilient, and who consistently give back and pay it forward.

Due to this morning’s announcements by the Governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people we have no choice but to cancel the Colon Cancer Challenge at Randall’s Island scheduled for March 29th, 2020.

We can’t thank you enough for your hard work on our behalf and the contributions you have already made. As you know Colorectal Cancer doesn’t stop for anyone – not even COVID-19and your support will enable us to continue to fight the nation’s second leading form of cancer as we weather this storm.

For those of you who are interested in maintaining the fitness level required for a 2M walk or a 5K we recommend you turn this into an opportunity to join us for a “virtual” walk/run/bike ride” in your neighborhood or community park. (Observing social distancing recommendations of course). More details to follow!

We are also looking into the possibility of rescheduling the Colon Cancer Challenge for the fall. We will keep you posted as opportunities arise to be involved in In-person, live events to support our mission – A World Without Colorectal Cancer™.

In the meantime, we encourage you to visit these websites for the most current information and guidance, the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH), the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

We also strongly encourage those in our community who are at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 to take actions to reduce their risk of getting sick with the disease. For more information please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

If you have any questions you can contact the Colon Cancer Foundation by email at info@coloncancerfoundation.org or by phone at 914-305-6674.

Our sincerest wishes for a safe and healthy spring,

Cindy R. Borassi

Interim President

Colon Cancer Foundation

In the cancer community usually, immune cells in a tumor can improve one’s chances of survival. However, a new study recently found that colorectal cancer patients with too many immune cells may be at risk for disease recurrence and increased risk of death.

New research from City of Hope, an independent research center, published a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that offered insight that the standard view of immunology as a positive may adversely affect colorectal cancer patients. 71 patients with colorectal cancer at the City of Hope had immune cells and all of the patients relapsed – all even earlier than those who did not have the immune cells are still relapsed. The researchers hypothesized that the patients’ immune systems were on overdrive.

The study offered new insight into immunotherapy and Immunoscore, which is a recent benchmark that may predict the risk of colon cancer recurring in survivors. City of Hope has identified new recurrence insight based on their studies and hope to apply the same techniques to breast cancer patients and eventually melanoma and lung cancer.

Read more about the study and ask your physician about any questions you may have. 

 

February is Fiber Awareness Month, which is a perfect time to learn more about fiber and the role it can play in preventing colorectal cancer. Fiber-rich foods are known for their immense health benefits and multiple studies link fiber to a lower risk of colon cancer.

 

While it is well-known that fiber leads to a lower risk of colon cancer, did you also know it may help those who have battled colorectal cancer to live longer? The Cleveland Clinic recently found in questionnaires and medical records from 1,575 people that those who had been treated  for early-stage colon cancer had a 20% reduction in dying if they ate more fiber-rich foods. Additionally, they also faced a 15% lower risk of dying from other diseases, too.

 

How can you get your daily intake of fiber-rich foods? Luckily, fiber is found in many fruits/vegetables and dry goods, according to WedMD.

  • Raspberries have 8 grams of fiber per cup
  • Medium-sized artichokes have 10 grams of fiber
  • Beans are high in fiber and protein
  • Cereals with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving are a smart choice
  • Popcorn is a fiber-friendly snack with low calories

 

You can also look for fiber-fortified products, such as milk or juices. The study from the Cleveland Clinic highlighted high-fiber cereal and whole grains as the most beneficial sources of fiber, followed by fruits and vegetables. Even a small change in adding fiber to a patient’s diet showed an improvement in those diagnosed with colon cancer.

 

Comment below and let us know how you incorporate fiber into your diet.

 

If you’re in New York City this upcoming week, join the Colon Cancer Foundation for our 2019 Ride for Research. We’ll be clipping in for a Charity Spin Class that will benefit our work to help eradicate colon cancer and support survivors and patients.

In the United States, colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women, according to the American Cancer Society. When you combine men and women, it’s the second most common cause of cancer deaths. An estimated 51,020 people will die in 2019 from colon cancer.

The Young Leadership Board (YLB) of the Colon Cancer Foundation partnering with SWERVE Fitness on Dec. 7, 2019, to offer the charity spin class at either 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $65 and will include the 45-minute spin class, shoe rental and a bottle of water. The address is at 21 West 46th Street, New York, NY.

All proceeds will be donated directly to the Colon Cancer Foundation, which helps fund research focused on early age onset of colorectal cancer. Learn more about our research program and past grant awardees on our website.

Since the American Cancer Society reduced its screening guidelines for colorectal cancer, it’s no surprise that more young adults are affected by early age onset colon cancer. What is surprising, and just as alarming, is that more young adults are dying from colorectal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, the United States has seen a 51% increase in colorectal cancer in those under 50-years-old since 1994. The American Cancer Society reduced its screening guidelines for those at standard risk to 45-years-old because of the rise in early age onset colorectal cancer.

Despite the change in screening standards, mortality rates are increasing for those with early age onset colorectal cancer. According to Colorectal Cancer Alliance research, 67% of young early age onset colorectal cancer patients saw anywhere from two to four doctors before being diagnosed. This means that many patients were slow to recognize their symptoms, which can aid in early detection. 

Early symptoms may include: 

  • A change your bowel habits
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Frequent gas, bloating or cramps

 

Learn more about the common symptoms of colorectal cancer and educate your loved ones on how to get screened on our blog. If you have any questions, please reach out to us in the comments.

 

Friends, peers and patients gathered at the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) 2019 annual meeting in Baltimore to remember the late Thomas Weber, MD, FACS founder and president of the Colon Cancer Foundation and past chairman of the NCCRT.

Attendees emphasized the importance of honoring Dr. Weber’s legacy by accepting his challenge to continue to ask the difficult questions and listen to every idea, even if these ideas are, as one attendee put it, “very bold.”  A patient-advocate spoke of Tom’s friendship and how she felt especially valued by him and his dedication to the emerging early-age CRC public health issue.

The Colon Cancer Foundation will continue Dr. Weber’s groundbreaking work and by welcoming his son, Nicholas Weber to the Board of Directors, will hold true to his vision and renew his commitment to continue the Colon Cancer Foundation’s national leadership in EAO-CRC.