Refractory metastatic colorectal cancer: Current challenges and future prospects

Marissa Lam, Caroline Lum, Sarah Latham, Sam Tipping Smith, Hans Prenen, Eva Segelov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Despite advances, patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) still have poor long-term survival. Identification of molecular subtypes is important to guide therapy through standard treatment pathways and holds promise for the development of new treat-ments. Following standard first-and second-line chemotherapy plus targeted agents, many patients retain a reasonable performance status, and thus are seeking further effective treatment to extend life and maintain symptom control. The challenge lies in selecting the most appropriate therapy in the third-and fourth-line settings, from a range of options including the relatively new oral agents TAS-102 and regorafenib, or rechallenge with previous chemotherapy or anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) monoclonal antibodies (mAB). Beyond this, therapy consists of trials involving novel agents and new combinations of treatments with theoretical synergy and/or non-overlapping toxicity. There is a great focus on enhancing immunogenicity in mCRC, to reflect the impressive results of immunotherapy drugs in the small cohort with mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) mCRC. Rare molecular subtypes of mCRC are increasingly being identified, including Her2-positive disease, NTRK fusions and others. Clinical trials exploring the efficacy of immunomodula-tory and precision agents are plentiful and will hopefully yield clinically meaningful results that can be rapidly translated into routine care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5819-5830
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Management and Research
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020


  • Genomic profiling
  • Immunotherapy
  • Molecular targets
  • Precision medicine

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