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Mechanisms of immunogenicity in colorectal cancer. BJS 2019; 106: 1283-1297.

Published: 19th June 2019

Authors: T. O. Sillo, A. D. Beggs, D. G. Morton, G. Middleton


The immune response in cancer is increasingly understood to be important in determining clinical outcomes, including responses to cancer therapies. New insights into the mechanisms underpinning the immune microenvironment in colorectal cancer are helping to develop the role of immunotherapy and suggest targeted approaches to the management of colorectal cancer at all disease stages.


Responsiveness to immunotherapy in colorectal cancer is non‐uniform. Several factors, both germline and tumour‐related, are potential determinants of immunogenicity in colorectal cancer. Current approaches target tumours with high immunogenicity driven by mutations in DNA mismatch repair genes. Recent work suggests a role for therapies that boost the immune response in tumours with low immunogenicity.


With the development of promising therapies to boost the innate immune response, there is significant potential for the expansion of the role of immunotherapy as an adjuvant to surgical treatment in colorectal cancer.

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