Endoscopic and imaging outcomes of PD-1 therapy in localised dMMR colorectal cancer

Eur J Cancer. 2023 Nov:194:113356. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2023.113356. Epub 2023 Sep 22.


Background: Neoadjuvant immune checkpoint blockade (IO) is emerging as a therapeutic option for patients with deficient mismatch repair (dMMR) colorectal cancer (CRC) given high pathological response rates. The aim of the study was to characterise imaging and endoscopic response to IO.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients with localised dMMR CRC that received at least one cycle of neoadjuvant anti-PD-1 therapy was conducted. Endoscopy, imaging, and pathological outcomes were reviewed to determine response to treatment according to standardised criteria.

Results: Thirty-eight patients had received IO for the treatment of localised CRC (median eight cycles). Among evaluable cases (n = 31 for endoscopy and n = 34 for imaging), the best endoscopic response was complete response (CR) in 45% of cases, and the best radiographic response was CR in 23% of cases. Imaging CR rate after ≤4 cycles of IO (n = 1) was 6% compared to 44% after >4 IO cycles (n = 7). Among 28 patients with imaging and endoscopy available, a discrepancy in best response was noted in 15 (54%) cases. At a median follow-up of 28.2 months from IO start, 18 patients underwent surgical resection of which 11 (61%) had pathological CR (pCR). Despite pCR or no evidence of progression ≥6 months after completion of IO among non-operatively managed patients, 72% and 42% of patients had non-CR on imaging and endoscopy, respectively.

Conclusions: Discrepancies between imaging and endoscopy are prevalent, and irregularities identified on these modalities can be identified despite pathological remission. Improved clinical response criteria are warranted.

Keywords: Colorectal neoplasms; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Immunotherapy; Microsatellite instability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • DNA Mismatch Repair
  • Endoscopy
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors