The use of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has revolutionized cancer care, particularly in immune-inflamed tumors and tumors with a high mutational burden, like microsatellite instable colorectal cancer (CRC). However, their effectiveness in microsatellite stable (MSS) CRC is limited. This systematic review aims to evaluate the efficacy of ICIs in MSS CRC and explore promising combination strategies. A comprehensive search from the Web of Science, Medline, and Embase databases, for studies published until 14 November 2022, identified 53 clinical trials included in the review. ICI monotherapy or ICI-ICI combinations demonstrated limited clinical activity for patients with MSS CRC, with overall response rates below (ORR) 10% in most studies. The ICI and tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) garnered ORRs ranging from 10% to 40% and indicated a higher benefit for patients, particularly those without active liver metastases. The combination of ICIs with anti-VEGF agents showed modest ORRs, especially in the earlier treatment lines and in combination with chemotherapy. While these combinations could lead to modest improvements, well-defined biomarkers for long-term benefit are yet to be delineated. Combinations involving BRAF inhibitors with ICIs were studied, showing promising responses with combination approaches in molecularly defined subgroups. In conclusion, while ICI monotherapy has limited efficacy in MSS CRC, combination strategies hold promise to enhance survival outcomes. Further research is necessary to identify optimal combination approaches, predictive biomarkers for treatment response, as well as enrollment according to tumor molecular characteristics. This is a thoughtful meta-analysis of approaches to possible combinations to prospectively study in this group of MSS colorectal cancers.
READ THE ARTICLE – https://doi.org/10.1093/oncolo/oyae013