First-line chemotherapy for mCRC—a review and evidence-based algorithm

Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2015 Oct;12(10):607-19. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2015.129. Epub 2015 Jul 28.


The response to first-line therapy is a primary determinant of outcome in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), for three main reasons: effective upfront therapy provides a unique opportunity to cure some patients; can be crucial in delaying disease progression and achieving symptom relief; and can improve patient eligibility for, and the effectiveness of, further treatments. In the past decade, decision-making regarding the choice of first-line therapy for mCRC has been complicated by the availability of many different options without a definitive consensus on a specific standard of care (despite major advances in categorizing predictive molecular disease subtypes). Most of the efforts of the scientific community have been directed at establishing the best biologic agent to be combined with a chemotherapy doublet, although a different branch of research has produced new data that underscore the importance of defining the optimal chemotherapy backbone. Herein, we review the key clinical trials completed in the past 10 years that have investigated and compared the use of chemotherapy doublets, triplets, and monotherapies, with or without molecularly targeted biologic agents, in the first-line treatment of patients with mCRC. Our examination of the literature led us to propose a new patient-oriented algorithm to guide clinicians' decisions on the best choice of upfront therapy for mCRC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Survival Analysis