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Immune Cells in Tumor Good Sign in Colorectal Cancer

Tumor-infiltrating immune cells associated with improved survival

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Colorectal cancer patients who have immune cells infiltrating their tumors have fewer signs of metastasis and longer survival than patients who do not, according to a study in the Dec. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Franck Pages, M.D., Ph.D., of the University Paris 6, France, and colleagues studied pathological signs of early metastatic invasion in 959 specimens of resected colorectal cancer.

The researchers found that the presence of high levels of infiltrating memory CD45RO+ cells correlated with the absence of signs of early metastatic invasion, less advanced disease and longer survival.

"Signs of an immune response within colorectal cancers are associated with the absence of pathological evidence of early metastatic invasion and with prolonged survival," the authors write.

In an accompanying editorial, Giorgio Parmiani, M.D., of the Istituto Nazionale Tumori in Milan, Italy, writes that the clinical response to immunotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer remains unsatisfactory.

"The notion that tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells control tumor growth by clearing early micrometastases, if further substantiated, may help in the design of new trials of immunotherapy in patients with early disease or patients made disease-free by surgery," Parmiani writes.

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