Twelve patients with rectal cancer took part in a clinical trial to test the effects of dostarlimab, a drug normally used in the treatment of endometrial cancer. The results are unexpected. After 6 months of treatment, the volunteers no longer had a tumour, according to a study published on June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Undetectable cancer six months after the end of treatment
“This is the first time that this has happened in the history of cancer”, assured in the columns of the New York Times Dr. Luis Diaz, one of the study’s authors, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Six months after stopping treatment, the cancer had become undetectable and patients reported no dostarlimab-related side effects.
Boost the immune system
“These drugs don’t work by directly attacking the cancer itself, but instead getting a person’s immune system to do most of the work. These are treatments that have been around for a long time for melanoma and other cancers,” said Dr. Hanna Sanoff, an oncologist from the University of North Carolina who is delighted with her results.
The only limit to this trial for the time being is the small number of patients who have benefited from this treatment. It will therefore be necessary to repeat the experiment on a larger number of people with rectal cancer in order to be able to draw definitive conclusions.