A new rectal cancer treatment eliminated all tumors in a small group of patients

A new rectal cancer treatment eliminated all tumors in a small group of patients thumbnail

Although there is no cure for cancer, a small clinical trial could lead to a new treatment for rectal cancer. A study published Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine found a 100 percent success rate in 12 patients with rectal cancer treated with the immunotherapy drug dostarlimab. The tumors of the patients disappeared, and there were no signs or side effects.

Colorectal carcinoma affects about 5% Americans over their lives. Rectal cancer treatment can include one or more of the following: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. There is a chance of side effects from these treatments, but they can reduce a person’s quality life.

” Our first duty is to save a patient’s life. “But the standard treatment for rectal carcinoma with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can be especially difficult on people due to the location of the tumour,” Andrea Cercek, a medical doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, said. She is the lead author of a press release HTML1. “They may experience life-altering bowel or bladder dysfunction, incontinence and sexual dysfunction, as well as incontinence and infertility.

The new study used a different approach to common therapies. An immunotherapy drug was used by the oncology team to boost a person’s immune system and help them fight cancer. Luis Diaz Jr., an oncologist and study coauthor, came up with the idea. He had previously seen success in immunotherapy for colorectal cancer patients whose tumors had spread.

[Related: Why doctors almost never say cancer is ‘cured’]

The 5-year survival rate for people with cancer in the rectum is around 90 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. But if rectal cancer spreads to areas such as the lungs or bones, the 5-year survival rate falls to 17 percent. Diaz stated in a press release that “We thought, ‘Let’s try it before cancer meetsastasizes as the first line of treatment.

The clinical trial enrolled 12 people with stage 2 or 3 mismatch repair-deficient rectal tumors. These types of tumors occur when the cell’s DNA repair system fails, causing errors in the genetic code. This type of cancer is often resistant to radiation and chemotherapy, and requires surgery to remove most of the rectum.

All study participants were administered 500 milligrams of a drug called dostarlimab every 3 weeks for 6 months. Because it blocks proteins that inhibit the immune response, the drug is known as a “checkpoint inhibitor” and allows immune cells to attack cancer cells. Researchers expected that most patients would need additional treatment with radiation or chemotherapy, but they were shocked to find no evidence of rectal cancer in any of the patients’ scans at 6 months.

” The immunotherapy shrinked the tumors faster than I expected,” Cercek stated in a press release. “Patients came to me after only two or three treatments and said, “This is amazing.” I feel normal again.’ “

Two years later, no tumors have reemerged and patients have not had to undergo chemoradiation nor surgery.

While the findings could have a significant impact on practice, it is possible that dostarlimab will not replace the standard treatment for rectal carcinoma. The results of the study were based only on a small number of patients, so it is possible that they may have been random.

Hanna K. Sanoff, an oncologist at the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center who wasn’t part of the research team, wrote in an accompanying editorial that these preliminary results are compelling–but it’s too soon to tell whether dostarlimab can completely cure rectal cancer. To fully understand the treatment’s effects, and how long it lasts, further research is needed to enroll more patients.

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