Days after rectal cancer disappeared without the need for conventional treatments in patients who received immunotherapy during a clinical study, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, Oncology Chairman Dr. (Col.) R. Ranga Rao said on Saturday that it is premature to conclude that all cancers have been cured. “We must not prematurely jump to the conclusion that we have found a cure for all cancers, all stages, and no chemotherapy, or surgery is ever required,” said Dr Rao.
Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder, and Director of Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals said that adapting the therapy to Indian conditions should be considered so that even the most underprivileged communities can benefit from this treatment. Dr Rao and Dr Bajaj’s remarks came after the MSKCC’s clinical trial found the total disappearance of tumours in rectal cancer patients without any additional treatment in all 100 per cent of them.
While speaking to ANI, Dr Rao said, “This new trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in a small number of patients, with locally advanced rectal cancer patients who had MMR deficiency, has shown total disappearance of the tumour without any additional treatment in all 100 per cent of them.” “This is very encouraging but we must note that long-term studies are required to understand the real impact,” he added.
“The drug is still investigational and the trial is limited to patients of a specific type, which constitute about four to five per cent of rectal cancers. While this is highly encouraging, we must not prematurely jump to conclusions that we have found a cure for all cancers, all stages, and no chemotherapy, or surgery is ever required,” he stated. “It is well recognized that Immunotherapy with PDL 1 blockers in MMRd patients is effective. Already immunotherapy has made a big difference in the field of cancer of all types. Several earlier trials have shown encouraging responses,” he further stated.
While Founder and Director of Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals Dr Shuchin Bajaj said, “After immunotherapy, rectal cancer went away without the need for the conventional therapies. We should consider adapting the therapy to Indian conditions so that even the most underprivileged communities can benefit from this treatment.” “This is, I believe, the first time in cancer history that something like this has happened. Every single patient’s cancer went, undetectable by physical examination, endoscopy, PET scans, or M.R.I. scans,” said Dr Bajaj.
“These patients had endured arduous treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and, most likely, life-altering surgery that could cause bowel, urinary, and sexual problems. Some people would require colostomy bags. However, after immunotherapy, rectal cancer went away without the need for conventional therapies,” he added. In what appears to be a miracle and the ‘first time in history’, a small clinical trial has found that every single rectal cancer patient who received an experimental treatment found that their cancer had vanished.
According to New York Times, in the small clinical trial conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 18 patients took a drug called Dostarlimab for around six months, and in the end, every one of them saw their tumours disappear. 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 experts, Dostarlimab is a drug with laboratory-produced molecules and it acts as substitute antibodies in the human body. The cancer is undetectable by physical exam; endoscopy; positron emission tomography or PET scans or MRI scans, added Experts. This proves that Dostarlimab can be a ‘potential’ cure for one of the most deadly common cancers.
According to New York Times, patients involved in the clinical trial earlier underwent treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and invasive surgery that could result in bowel, urinary, and even sexual dysfunction. The 18 patients went into the trial expecting to have to go through these procedures as the next step. However, to their surprise, no further treatment was needed.The findings of this trial have shocked experts and they have pointed out that complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of”. Dr Alan P. Venook, who is a colorectal cancer specialist at the University of California, said that the complete remission in every single patient is “unheard-of”. He hailed the research as a “world-first”.
Experts stated that the research was impressive as not all of the patients suffered significant complications from the drug trial. “There were a lot of happy tears,” said Oncologist Dr Andrea Cercek, describing the moment patients found out they were cancer-free as quoted by New York Times.
According to doctors, the patients, during the trial, took Dostarlimab every three weeks for six months. “It is noteworthy that they were all in similar stages of their cancer. The cancer was locally advanced in the rectum but had not spread to other organs,” added doctors. “At the time of this report, no patients had received chemoradiotherapy or undergone surgery, and no cases of progression or recurrence had been reported during follow-up,’ researchers wrote in the study published in the media outlet.
Cancer researchers who reviewed the drug told the media outlet that the treatment looks promising, but a larger-scale trial is needed.
(With inputs from ANI)