A recent drug trial administered to a handful of cancer patients had the surprising result of wiping out the disease in every participant.
The study was conducted on 18 rectal cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan and had a 100 percent success rate, according to a paper published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr, the author of the paper, told the New York Times.
The drug, dostarlimab, was administered to each patient every 3 weeks for 6 months.
The drug trial was expected to be followed by chemotherapy and surgery, as is standard, for every participant.
Some patients may have even required surgery leading to bowel and urinary dysfunction — or be forced to use a colostomy bag due to treatment, the Times said.
However, since all patients had no evidence of a tumor after taking an MRI, rectal examination or a biopsy — they were spared the agony of potentially damaging treatment.
“There were a lot of happy tears,” Dr. Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center told the Times.
In addition to not needing further treatment, there were no instances of a recurrence of cancer in the patients during follow-up appointments from 6 to 25 months after the trial ended.
One participant, Sascha Roth, told the Times that she planned to move to Manhattan for chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Then doctors gave her the good news — the trial worked and she was cancer-free.
“I told my family,” Roth said. “They didn’t believe me.”