A trial with 18 rectal cancer patients produced a remarkable breakthrough in cancer research as all patients were cured and did not need to pursue additional cancer treatments.
The “unprecedented” and “remarkable” results of a small cancer trial that left every patient in remission are being praised.
A study of 18 rectal cancer patients who were given dostarlimab every three weeks for six months and were cancer-free, including the first patient who is now two years out of the trial, was published on Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
According to The New York Times Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr., one of the paper’s authors, said, “I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer.”
At the end of trial, Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and another author of the paper, noted “a lot of happy tears.”
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Dr. Kimmie Ng, a colorectal cancer expert at Harvard Medical School, called the trial results “remarkable” and “unprecedented,” while also noting the fact that the study needs to be replicated.
“We initiated a prospective phase 2 study in which single-agent dostarlimab, an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody, was administered every 3 weeks for 6 months in patients with mismatch repair–deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma,” the study said. “This treatment was to be followed by standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery.”
According to the New York Times, those who took the drug, which “unmasks cancer cells, allowing the immune system to detect and destroy them,” did not need to pursue additional cancer treatments.
According to the study, all of the patients “had a clinical complete response, with no evidence of tumour on magnetic resonance imaging.” “No patients had received chemoradiotherapy or surgery at the time of this report, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up” (range, 6 to 25 months). No adverse events of grade 3 or higher have been reported.”
According to Science Daily, Hanna K. Sanoff, MD, MPH of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center advised caution but stated the findings were “very encouraging.”
“These initial findings of the remarkable benefit with the use of dostarlimab are very encouraging but also need to be viewed with caution until the results can be replicated in a larger and more diverse population,” Sanoff said.
“The responses in these first 12 of a planned-for 30 patients in the trial were remarkable and exceed what we would expect with the standard chemotherapy plus radiation,” she continued. “Although quality of life measures have not been reported yet, it’s encouraging that some of the most difficult symptoms, such as pain and bleeding, all resolved with the use of dostarlimab.”