March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: New Guidelines, Treatments, and Clinical Trials
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men. It is expected to cause about 50,260 deaths during 2017. It affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older.
Since March is Colorectal Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you some of the latest screening guidelines and provide updates on new treatments and clinical trials being offered at OHC.
The good news is that if everyone over the age of 50 were screened regularly, six out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. According to recent screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society, starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Less invasive tests, such as a guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and the immunochemical-based fecal occult blood test (iFOBT) can be performed annually, but if issues are detected then the next step is a colonoscopy. Stool DNA tests are also available and recommended as an alternative to be performed every three years.
If you are at high risk of colorectal cancer, you might consider starting colorectal cancer screening before the age of 50 or be screened more often. High risk includes a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, inflammatory bowel disease or a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatour polyposis (FAP) or lynch syndrome.
New Treatments – Immunotherapies
The most common treatment for colorectal cancer is surgery, which is often followed by chemotherapy and possibly radiation. In recent years, there have also been new and exciting advances with immunotherapy approaches that show promise in the fight against colorectal cancer.
Immunotherapy is a type of targeted cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. The immune system helps your body fight infections and other diseases. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.
Different forms of immunotherapy can be given in several different ways including intravenously, in a pill form, or in a cream form. There are two types of immunotherapies: active and passive.
Passive immunotherapies attach themselves to the cancer cell, setting off a reaction which is directed toward the tumor cell death. Cetuximab is an example of a passive immunotherapy currently available for colorectal cancer.
Active immunotherapies work to trigger the patients own immune system against cancer cells. Nivolumab is an example of an active immunotherapy (it stimulates the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer). It has been proven to be successful in fighting lung cancer and is now being tested for patients with microsatellite instability high metastatic colorectal cancer, and is demonstrating encouraging activity.
Colorectal Cancer Clinical Trials at OHC
As a regional leader in clinical trials research, OHC is able to offer patients many leading edge trials, close to home.
For patients with advanced colorectal cancer, OHC is currently offering a phase Ib study of the STAT 3 inhibitor BBI-608 that is used with a standard chemotherapy. This inhibitor targets stem cells that are not killed off during chemotherapy to stop progression of the cancerous cells and to begin shrinkage. Specifically, the drug targets the STAT3 and beta-catenin pathways, which are felt to play a critical role in malignant growth and development of metastases.
In the coming months, we will also be engaging in a clinical trial to prove the effectiveness of BI-695502, a biosimilar of Avastin, as a more affordable treatment option for patients.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, be sure to ask your physician if you qualify for one of OHC’s clinical trials.
To learn more about OHC’s treatments for colorectal cancer, our clinical trials, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, please browse our website and download our patient newsletters. Or call us toll-free at 1-844-424-6673.