A small group of people with rectal cancer recently witnessed a miracle when their cancer just vanished after receiving an experimental drug. According to the New York Times, 18 patients in a small clinical trial received the drug Dostarlimab for six months and saw their tumours decrease at the end.
Dostarlimab is a drug that contains molecules that act as substitute antibodies in the human body. The medicine was given to all 18 rectal cancer patients. As a result of the treatment, cancer was wiped out entirely in all of them, undetected by physical exams, endoscopies, PET scans, or MRI scans.
This is “the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” according to Dr Luis A. Diaz J. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Patients in the clinical experiment had previously undergone long and difficult therapies to eradicate their cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation, and invasive surgery, which could cause bowel, urinary, and even sexual abnormalities. The 18 patients are expected to go through them as the next step in the trial. However, they were surprised to learn that no more therapy was required.
The discoveries have caused a stir in the medical community. Dr Alan P. Venook, a colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, stated that complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of.” He lauded the study as a first of its kind in the world.
Oncologist Dr Andrea Cercek of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a paper co-author recalled the moment patients learned they were cancer-free. “There were a lot of happy tears,” she said.
Patients in the study were given Dostarlimab every three weeks for six months. They were all at the same cancer stage, which had progressed locally in the rectum but had not moved to other organs.
The drug’s evaluators claimed that the treatment is promising; however, a larger-scale experiment is needed to assess if it would work for more people and if the malignancies are actually in remission.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.