What is Colorectal Cancer? It is cancer of the colon, the rectum or a combination of the two. Its numbers are staggering – 1 in 20 people is affected. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women.
Advancements in treatments are being made every day and we are committed to bringing the latest evidence-based treatments and the newest clinical trials to help patients throughout Colorado beat this opponent.
Clinical research trials represent some of the most advanced treatment options. Click here to learn more.
ADVANCED TREATMENTS FOR COLORECTAL CANCER
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we are committed to bringing the latest evidence-based treatments to our patients in order to help provide the most optimal outcomes. In addition to standard therapies, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers provides access to today’s most promising emerging therapies, including:
- Targeted Therapy – Targeted therapy is a special type of chemotherapy that attacks colorectal cancer cells but doesn’t harm normal cells. Targeted therapies usually have less severe, and different, side effects than regular chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells but also damages normal cells. Read more below.
- Immunotherapy – Your natural immune system protects your body from germs, viruses and other foreign substances. Now, researchers—including Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers—are learning how to use the immune system to fight cancer, either by making your immune system stronger or attacking and destroying cancer cells. Biologic therapy is another name for some types of immunotherapy. While immunotherapy is a rapidly advancing field for many types of cancer, it is currently only available for colorectal cancer through clinical trials. Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is one of the sites for a clinical trial for immunotherapy in advanced colorectal cancer. Read more below.
- Genetic Counseling – Genetic counseling is not psychotherapy or long term mental health counseling. It is the process of assessing your personal and family history to determine the likelihood you may be at an increased risk of cancer. Read more below
TARGETED THERAPY FOR COLORECTAL CANCER
IS TARGETED THERAPY USED IN COLORECTAL CANCER?
Targeted therapy drugs are used in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. They help some patients live longer and sometimes works when standard chemotherapy drugs don’t. We use targeted therapy along with regular chemotherapy or alone.
HOW DOES TARGETED THERAPY WORK?
Targeted therapy stops cancer from growing and spreading by targeting specific molecules that make the cancer cells different than normal cells. Most targeted therapies block cancer cells from growing. In contrast, regular chemotherapy kills cancer cells.
Some targeted therapy drugs can be used in many patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Others only work in patients with a certain type of genetic mutation (called wild-type KRAS). To find the best targeted therapy, we test patients to see if you have this genetic component.
Targeted therapies are part of personalized medicine, which uses information about your genes and proteins to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.
WHAT TYPE OF TARGETED THERAPY IS AVAILABLE FOR COLORECTAL CANCER?
There are different types of targeted therapy for advanced colorectal cancer that work in different ways:
Drugs that stop cells from growing blood vessels to feed the tumor. By inhibiting a protein that signals cells to grow blood vessels, these drugs essentially cut off the tumor’s lifeblood.
A second type of drug, called kinase inhibitors, stops phosphorylation of molecules, preventing cancer cells from growing.
A third category of drugs targets yet another protein that helps cancer cells growth. These drugs target epidermal growth factor receptors, and they only work in patients with a specific genetic mutation called wild-type KRAS.
LEADING-EDGE TREATMENTS THROUGH CLINICAL RESEARCH
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers gives you access to the latest treatments for colorectal cancer through clinical trials. These research studies test how well new medicines, including targeted therapies, work in people with colorectal cancer. Most treatments used to treat colorectal cancer today came from past clinical trials.
Your Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers oncologist will determine whether you qualify for a clinical trial using a targeted therapy.
IMMUNOTHERAPY FOR COLORECTAL CANCER
HOW DOES IMMUNOTHERAPY WORK?
Some types of immunotherapy make the entire immune system stronger. Others target certain parts of your immune system to attack cancer cells.
Immunotherapies for cancer include:
- Monoclonal antibodies: These man-made versions of immune system proteins attack a specific part of cancer cells, which helps the immune system destroy them.
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
Cancer vaccines: These vaccines can be used to help prevent or treat some cancers. As a treatment, they train the body to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Some cancer vaccines can prevent cancer from coming back, destroy remaining cancer cells after other treatments, or stop cancer cells from growing.
- Other, non-specific immunotherapies: These treatments make the immune system stronger, which can help it attack and destroy cancer cells.
WHAT TYPE OF IMMUNOTHERAPY IS AVAILABLE FOR COLORECTAL CANCER?
Immunotherapy drugs are helping patients with many types of cancer. But right now, immunotherapy for colorectal cancer is only available through clinical trials. We think that research will show that immunotherapy is helpful to patients with colorectal cancer. Our doctors, and many others, are studying immunotherapy drugs for colorectal cancer.
Researchers are also studying immunotherapy in general to:
- Understand why immunotherapy works in some patients but not in others with the same type of cancer
- Expand the use of immunotherapy to more types of cancer
- Make immunotherapy work better by combining it with other types of cancer treatment, like targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
WHAT IMMUNOTHERAPY DO WE UTILIZE?
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers gives you access to the latest treatments for colorectal cancer through clinical trials. These research studies test how well new medicines, including immunotherapy, works in people with colorectal cancer. Most treatments used to treat colorectal cancer today came from past clinical trials.
Your Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers oncologist can determine whether you qualify for a clinical trial using immunotherapy.
COLON CANCER: PREVENTION AND RISK ASSESSMENT CLINIC
Genetic abnormalities account for about 5-10 percent of diagnosed cases of colon cancer. Researchers have identified several changes in genes, called mutations, which may increase risk of developing colon cancer.
If one or more close family members have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you may benefit from our Genetic Counseling, Prevention, and Risk Assessment Clinic to help you accurately evaluate your own cancer risk. Our collaborative program uses personal history, family history, and genetic testing to help build a customized program of assessment and surveillance.
Our program is unique because it includes a collaborative approach to surveillance and risk reduction involving both a medical oncologist and a board certified genetic counselor. Our team of experts will develop a personalized medical management plan which may include more frequent or younger ages of colonoscopies, lifestyle modification strategies or medications.