This small cancer trial led to remission in every single person: 'There were a lot of happy tears'



In a study conducted at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, 18 rectal cancer patients who took the same drug found that their cancer had completely vanished. Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr., the lead author of the paper published on Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine, stated that this was a first in the history of cancer. While this was a small trial sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, the results are promising and open up a world of possibilities. Some of those who benefited from the study were even moved to tears. Every single patient is currently in total remission, The New York Times reports.
According to Dr. Diaz, no other study in which a treatment completely obliterated cancer in every patient presently exists. He affirmed, "I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer." Dr. Alan P. Venook, a colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, concurred. He claimed that a complete remission in every single patient is "unheard of." Furthermore, none of the patients had clinically significant complications as a result of the treatment. Approximately one in five patients have some sort of adverse reaction to drugs like the one the patients took, dostarlimab, known as checkpoint inhibitors.
Dr. Venook thus hypothesized that the researchers may have not treated enough patients. Alternatively, he suggested the cancers they treated were "just plain different." Over the course of six months, patients were treated with a dose of dostarlimab every three weeks. Each dose cost about $11,000. The study was inspired by a clinical trial Dr. Diaz led in 2017, funded by Merck. Eighty-six people with metastatic cancer took checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab for up to two years. Tumors shrank or stabilized in about one-third to one-half of the patients, and they lived longer. Tumors vanished in 10% of the trial’s participants. Therefore, for this study, researchers selected patients who were at a stage much earlier in the course of the disease, that is, before their cancer had a chance to spread.

Sascha Roth, then aged 38, was their first patient. She is a runner and helps manage a family furniture store. She first noticed some rectal bleeding in 2019 but otherwise felt fine. Her gastroenterologist informed her she had cancer after performing a biopsy on a tumor found during a sigmoidoscopy. She said, "I completely melted down." Roth was scheduled to start chemotherapy at Georgetown University, but chose to participate in the clinical trial instead. After the trial ended, she planned to move to New York for radiation, chemotherapy and possibly surgery. However, she received unbelievable news.
"We looked at your scans," Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a co-author of the paper, told her. "There is absolutely no cancer." Even two years on, Roth remains cancer-free. She did not need further treatment. Remarkably, she was only one of 18 patients who experienced similar results. Dr. Cercek shared, "There were a lot of happy tears." Now, there is immense potential to extend the study to even more patients.






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