According to a small study, a new immunotherapy treatment was tested on 18 patients with rectal cancer at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan with a 100% success rate.
The study from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 5 and presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
Each patient was treated with Dostarlimab drug, an anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, every three weeks for six months as first-line therapy.
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The drug treatment was supposed to be followed by regular chemo-radiation and surgery, but participants in the study, whose cancer went into remission, did not have to go through these treatments.
After six months of follow-up, all fourteen patients had achieved remission, with no sign of malignancy on medical scans and tests, digital rectal exam, or biopsy.
So far, none needed chemo-radiation, or surgery got worse or came back in the 25 months that some of them have been followed up on. There have been no major side effects.
In addition to not requiring additional treatment, the drug spares them the misery of possibly harmful therapy.
“Since MMRd colorectal cancer is responsive to PD-1 blockade in the metastatic setting, we hypothesized that locally advanced mismatch repair-deficient rectal cancer is sensitive to checkpoint blockade and may reduce or eliminate the need for additional treatments,” study co-leader Dr. Andrea Cercek explained in an MSK press statement. She is co-director of the Young Onset Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at MSK.
“Surgery and radiation have irreversible impacts on fertility, sexual health, and bowel and bladder function,” Cercek explained. “The ramifications for the quality of life are enormous, particularly for individuals whose fertility would be affected by routine therapy. As the prevalence of rectal cancer in young individuals increases, this strategy can significantly impact.”