After experimental treatment, a small number of people with rectal cancer witnessed something of a miracle when their cancer simply vanished. According to the New York Times, 18 patients in a tiny clinical trial took a medicine called Dostarlimab for around six months, and by the end of it, all of their tumours had vanished.
Dostarlimab is a medication that contains laboratory-made molecules that act as replacement antibodies in the human body. The identical medicine was administered to all 18 rectal cancer patients, and as a result of the treatment, the cancer was fully eradicated in all of them, undetectable by physical examination, endoscopy, positron emission tomography or PET scans, or MRI scans.
Dr Luis A. Diaz J. of New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said this was “the first time this has happened in the history of cancer”
According to the New York Times, the patients in the clinical research had previously undergone arduous therapies to eradicate their cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation, and invasive surgery, all of which could cause bowel, urinary, and even sexual problems. The 18 patients are expected to have 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 colon cancer specialist at the University of California, told the news organization that complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of.” He lauded the study as a first of its kind around the globe. He went on to say that it was especially impressive because not all of the patients experienced serious side effects from the trial medicine.
Oncologist Dr Andrea Cercek of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a co-author of the paper recalled the moment patients learned they were cancer-free. She told the New York Times, “There were a lot of happy tears.”
Patients in the study were given Dostarlimab every three weeks for six months. They were all at the same stage of cancer, which had progressed locally in the rectum but had not moved to other organs.
The drug’s reviewers now tell the media outlet that the treatment is promising, but that a larger-scale experiment is needed to assess if it would work for more people and if the malignancies are actually in remission.