Well, this news is not less than a miracle. ‘First Time In History’, a small clinical drug trial has shown 100% eradication of cancer in patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, US. Though it was a small clinical trial, every patient who received an experimental treatment found that their cancer had vanished. There were 18 rectal cancer patients who were given the same drug for six months. As a result of the treatment, cancer completely vanished in every patient.
How Did It Happen?
Though the trial was small in scale, but it has given hope. A hope that cancer can be removed completely without going through long and painful chemotherapy sessions, radiotherapy, or even surgeries. According to The New York Times, the drug called Dostarlimab was administered to 18 rectal cancer patients. After six months, all the 18 patients saw their tumors disappear. All the patients seemed to have recovered completely. The disease was also not detected on any physical exam, endoscopy, positron emission tomography (PET scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
First Time Ever
Doctor Luis A. Diaz J. of New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said in a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine that he was not aware of any other study, in which a treatment “completely obliterated cancer in every patient.” He added this was “the first time this has happened in the history of cancer.”
Doctor Alan P Venook, a Colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, San Francisco was not part of the team that conducted this test. He also said this was a first. “A complete remission in every single patient is unheard of.”
Study Of Dostarlimab Drug
Many patients had almost given up their hopes after failing to recover after going through painful chemotherapy and radiation sessions. Some patients even underwent ‘life-altering’ surgeries resulting in urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Some of them even had to use colostomy bags. They agreed to be part of the dostarlimab trial without expecting their cancerous tumors to subside. The patients even expected their current treatment modes to continue. However, to their pleasant surprise, the patients were taken off the painful chemotherapy and radiation sessions. Even they were told that there would be no need to go for any surgeries.
There was another surprise for the patients. It was the complete absence of significant post-treatment complications associated with other forms of cancer treatment like chemotherapies and radiation. Moreover, there were also no signs of recurrence of cancer in the patients until 25 months from the end of the trial, sponsored by the drug company GlaxoSmithKline. Doctor Andrea Cercek, an Oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a co-author of the study said, “There were a lot of happy tears.”
How Does Dostarlimab Drug Work?
The patients were administered the dostarlimab drug every three weeks for six months. The medication was aimed to unmask cancer cells. It allows the body’s immune system to identify and destroy them naturally.
Some drugs that are known as ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ usually have some kind of adverse reaction in 20% of patients who undergo the treatments. Also, nearly 60% of patients have severe complications, that includes muscle weakness. However, in the case of the dostarlimab study, no negative reaction was seen in the patients.
Also, rectal cancer in the patients was locally advanced and tumors had spread in the rectum and even to the lymph nodes in some cases, but not to other organs.
Cost Of Treatment
If approved for mass use in the near future, the Dostarlimab drug is not going to come cheap. The trial doses cost $11,000 each which is nearly INR 8.55 lakh per dose.
Cancer Data Across The Globe
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 10 million people died in 2020 because of this deadly disease. The data shows that cancer is responsible for nearly one in six deaths. Breast cancer accounted for most of the new cases which are 2.26 million. Lung cancer is a close second with 2.21 million cases. It is followed by colon and rectum cancer patients which are 1.93 million cases in 2020.
The cancer researchers who reviewed the drug told the media that the treatment looks promising. If further trials on a larger scale show similar results and if the cancer is truly in remission. The results were outstanding and have ushered in hope for billions of people across the globe. We could soon be heading towards a cancer-free world.