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New Rectal Cancer Treatment Trial is a Success

A brand new treatment for rectal cancer could be a significant advancement in searching for a cancer cure. 


Rectal cancer, also called colorectal cancer, affects the rectum lining, which can progressively travel up your colon. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate is 67 percent. If caught earlier in a localized region, the rate is 90 percent. 


A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine had 12 patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with rectal cancer. According to the survey, an anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody, dostalimab, was administered every three weeks in patients with mismatch repair-deficient stage II or III rectal adenocarcinoma.


The result was that the treatment had worked. Doctors found that all 12 patients did not have any cancer left in their bodies. They had a “clinical and complete response, with no evidence of tumor on magnetic resonance imaging, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose–positron-emission tomography, endoscopic evaluation, digital rectal examination, or biopsy.” After two years, the patient remained cancer-free, as no signs of growth were detected with physical exams, MRI scans, endoscopy, or PET scans.   


The primary drug used in the study was neoadjuvant dostarlimab at a dose of 500 mg, followed by radiation therapy. Dostalimab is often used to treat endometrial cancer, which affects the uterus lining. 


Dr. Luis A. Diaz, a Colorectal oncologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NwWork and one of the leading doctors of the study, told the New York Times, “This is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,”


Dr. Kimmie Ng, a colorectal cancer expert at Harvard Medical School, presented at the Annual Meeting at the 22’ ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology)g. She talked about the abstract and showed her support for the matter, and encouraged further studies.  


 “Although the results of our study are promising, especially given that 12 consecutive patients all had a clinical complete response, the study is small and represents the experience of a single institution. These findings must be reproduced in a larger prospective cohort that balances academic and community practices and ensures the participation of patients from a diverse set of racial and ethnic backgrounds.” said the authors of the paper. 


These findings could be a step in the right direction to finding an indefinite cure for all cancers.


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