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The Role of Palliative Surgery for Malignant Bowel Obstruction and Perforation in Advanced Microsatellite Instability-High Colorectal Carcinoma in the Era of Immunotherapy: Case Report.


The role of palliative surgery in the management of acute complications in patients with disseminated malignancy remains controversial given the complexity of assessing acute surgical risk and long-term oncologic outcome. With the emergence of checkpoint blockade immunotherapy, there appears to be an increasing role for historically palliative procedures as a bridge to systemic immunotherapy. This is especially evident in advanced microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) colorectal cancer where malignant obstruction and fistula formation are more common and where immunotherapy with checkpoint blockade (anti-PD-1/PD-L1, anti-CTLA-4) has a high response rate with potential for favorable oncologic outcomes. We present a series of three patients with MSI-H metastatic colorectal cancer complicated by malignant bowel obstruction and fistula formation, who having progressed on standard chemotherapy, underwent palliative intervention as a bridge to immune checkpoint blockade with durable and clinically meaningful anti-cancer responses. These cases highlight the need to re-evaluate the role of historically palliative operations in the setting of disease progression for immunotherapy-responsive tumors.

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