Introduction: High-frequency microsatellite instability (MSI-H) is an alternate pathway of colorectal carcinogenesis, which accounts for 15% of all sporadic colorectal cancers. These tumours arise from mutations in the DNA mismatch repair system and thus have different responses to chemotherapeutic agents compared to microsatellite stable (MSS) cancers.
Objective: This review aims to summarise the available literature on the responses to chemotherapy in MSI-H colorectal cancer (CRC).
Results and discussion: 5 Fluorouracil (5FU) is commonly used as a chemotherapeutic agent in colon cancer and in vitro evidence shows reduced response to 5FU in MSI-H CRC. The clinical evidence is conflicting but favours a reduced response to 5FU in MSI-H CRC. Several newer agents such as COX-2 inhibitors and irinotecan are also reviewed.
Conclusion: Available evidence suggests that MSI-H CRC have different behaviour patterns and response to chemotherapy compared with MSS CRC.