Immunotherapy for Colorectal Cancer

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer.

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The goal of immunotherapy for colorectal cancer is to boost a patient’s immune reaction to the cancer cells, allowing them to fight the disease more effectively. 

Major Breakthroughs in Immunotherapy for Colorectal Cancer

Immunotherapy has only been shown to be effective in a small subset of colorectal cancer patients. Specifically, patients with certain biomarkers (microsatellite-instability or mismatch repair deficiency) have recently been approved for the treatment pembrolizumab. 


  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda ®)
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo ®)
  • CTLA-4 Inhibitor
  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy ®)

What to Know About Immunotherapy for Colorectal Cancer 

Immunotherapy is Approved for MSI-H mCRC Patients 

Immunotherapy is currently FDA approved for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients with microsatellite instability (MSI-H) who have progressed on other standard chemotherapy treatment. Biomarker testing can tell you if current immunotherapies are an option for you.

How to Find a Clinical Trial

Only a small subset of mCRC patients have MSI tumors. A majority have microsatellite stable (MSS) tumors, and current immunotherapy treatments have not shown benefit in MSS patients. There are clinical trials being conducted to learn more about immunotherapy in MSS patients. To find a clinical trial, visit the Fight CRC Clinical Trial Finder ,which has a filtered curation generated from all potential MSS-CRC patient-enrolling trials, and is based on parameters that are most important from the viewpoint of stage IV, MSS-CRC patients. The trials listed are sourced from a publicly available repository of all trials listed on, maintained by the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI). 

Fight CRC is Convening Research

Since 2015, Fight CRC has convened the Immunotherapy (IO) Work Group. The IO Work Group consists of multidisciplinary experts in the fields of CRC and IO from around the world, and it is committed to moving IO forward by synthesizing research, identifying gaps in translational and clinical research, and advising research. Fight CRC works with this group and engages them to discuss priorities for projects and funding.