Colorectal cancer prevention: Immune modulation taking the stage

Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer. 2018 Apr;1869(2):138-148. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2017.12.002. Epub 2018 Jan 31.


Prevention or early detection is one of the most promising strategies against colorectal cancer (CRC), the second leading cause of cancer death in the US. Recent studies indicate that antitumor immunity plays a key role in CRC prevention. Accumulating evidence suggests that immunosurveillance represents a critical barrier that emerging tumor cells have to overcome in order to sustain the course of tumor development. Virtually all of the agents with cancer preventive activity have been shown to have an immune modulating effect. A number of immunoprevention studies aimed at triggering antitumor immune response against early lesions have been performed, some of which have shown promising results. Furthermore, the recent success of immune checkpoint blockade therapy reinforces the notion that cancers including CRC can be effectively intervened via immune modulation including immune normalization, and has stimulated various immune-based combination prevention studies. This review summarizes recent advances to help better harness the immune system in CRC prevention.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Immune modulation; Immunosurveillance; Prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use*
  • Cancer Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / immunology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Colon / drug effects*
  • Colon / immunology
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / adverse effects
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Immunotherapy / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Monitoring, Immunologic
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Escape / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Immunologic Factors