Most people with stage 4 or metastatic colorectal cancer don’t live long. Due to this reality, the need for effective treatment options that offer better chances of better survival has grown. One of the options is the immunotherapy drugs.

Immunotherapy drugs use the body's defences to fight cancer. The drugs may improve the chances of survival in patients. The drugs can be given intravenously to the patient to help stimulate the immune system in order to fight cancer. Patients who are placed under immunotherapy live long while some have their disease put in remission.

Here is how immunotherapy is used in cancer patients:

•    Immunotherapy is a secondary treatment option for patients with advanced-stage colorectal cancer. Patients with tumors that have mismatch repair deficiency often get a lot of mutations due to high levels of microsatellite instability (MSI-high) within the tumors.

•    Immunotherapy is recommended for patients who have not responded to other traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. It is also meant for patients who require additional therapy to fight the MSI-high metastatic colorectal cancer. 

•    The duration of the course of immunotherapy treatment varies with the patient’s response to the drugs. The side effects of this treatment include autoimmune problems such as autoimmune colitis which is the inflammation of the colon that causes severe diarrhea and other life-threatening colon conditions. It can also lead to kidney inflammation (nephritis), hepatitis, which is liver inflammation and myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle, a condition that may lead to sudden death. 

•    Medications like steroids can manage the mild side effects of immunotherapy.

New immunotherapy drugs are still being studied and developed to help more patients with colon cancer. With all the efforts to develop new treatments still ongoing, colorectal cancer is difficult to treat when it is advanced. That is why screening is vital to help treat the disease while it's in the early stages. 

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At Las Colinas Cancer Center, a Choice Cancer Care Treatment Center, our team is committed to providing the personalized, compassionate treatment that can make all the difference in cancer care.

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