Louisville oncologist takes note of drug trial that delivered stunning results for rectal cancer | News

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — There is a stunning medical breakthrough for tens of thousands of people fighting a deadly form of cancer. It’s a small cancer drug trial but it’s having a huge impact on people suffering from rectal cancer.

Dr. Douglas Nelson with Hematology Oncology at Norton Healthcare said the clinical trial is encouraging.

“The idea of finding that this is an effective treatment for these rectal cancers is very impressive,” Nelson said.

In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center tested a cancer drug that delivered unheard-of results. Patients took a drug called Dostarlimab (brand name Jemperli) for six months. The results of the trial were stunning. Every single person was cured. 

Scientists said these kinds of results are rare, but Nelson said there are a few things to keep in mind.

“Some of the important caveats that have been pointed out is that this was a study of 14 patients,” he said. “And so you always have to be cautious when you think about a small number of patients and whether that should be extrapolated to the entire population or a much larger group.

“Nevertheless, to see 100% of the patients in this study … did not have to undergo surgery and they did not have to undergo radiation treatment — which would often be standard treatments for rectal cancer — that was certainly very, very impressive.”

This is immunotherapy that is typically used in what’s called locally advanced rectal cancer, so that’s stage two or stage three. The standard of care for that typically involves chemotherapy, radiation and or surgery and sometimes that causes significant disabilities. But with this immunotherapy, none of that was necessary.

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