'It's a miracle': It was hard to believe, but tumour was gone, say Cancer patients : The Tribune India

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GAME-CHANGER

'It's a miracle': It was hard to believe, but tumour was gone, say Cancer patients

14 patients recover after drug therapy, without surgery | One of trial participants an Indian

'It's a miracle': It was hard to believe, but tumour was gone, say Cancer patients

Trial participants with two principal investigators Dr Luis Dias and Dr Andrea Cercek. Twitter image by Memorial Sloan Kettering



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, June 8

Surprising results of an ongoing medical trial holds a new ray of hope for the world of oncology, as all 14 rectal cancer patients (trial participants) managed to lose their tumours after a drug regimen of six months, without radiation or surgery.

At the end of six months, there was no sign of tumour in any trial participant during MRI scans, PET scans and endoscopy. The development is being described as the first in the cancer treatment history.

It’s a miracle

That day, I did not see the tumour. I thought maybe it was hiding somewhere inside, but the doctors told me there was no tumour. It is a miracle. — Nisha, Indian-origin patient

Study’s importance

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths. A correct cancer diagnosis is essential for appropriate treatment.

Feeling yet to sink in

The fact that you can go from feeling whether you are going to die or lose your colon to getting the news that you are going to be fine...it is amazing. Avery, trial participant

Led by oncologists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, the study published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” has 32 authors and was primarily meant to test if TSR-042, a drug commonly called Dostarlimab, can treat advanced mismatch repair deficient cells, characterised by many DNA mutations which cause cancer.

All trial participants had mismatch repair deficient stage 2 or 3 rectal cancer and received the drug every three weeks over six months.

Trial leaders had planned to follow up the drug administration regime with chemotherapy and surgery as per the standard cancer treatment protocol. They had also expected some adverse reactions, as is the routine in such trials.

Surprisingly, after six months, there was no sign of tumour in any patient nor was any adverse event reported.

Leading gastrointestinal cancer expert Alan Burguete-Torres today hailed the study as a “game-changer for cancer patients”. He congratulated trial leader Andrea Cercek of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for the success.

Torres, however, said a longer follow-up was required to test trial resilience, with experts also calling for a larger trial base since 14 patient base was small and replicability was key to testing if the regime worked in big cohorts. Patients, part of the study, said they could not believe the news of trial success at first.

Indian-origin patient Nisha said she thought the tumour was just hiding somewhere.

In one of the testimonial videos released by the Kettering Cancer Center, another rectal cancer patient Imtiaz said the first thing he did after Dr Cercek told him about the trial success was to call his mother. “We both cried,” he said, breaking down again.

Cancer patient Sascha said she was not religious, but now believed in miracles.

“My friends had taken me to a healing mass prior and then I got the news from Dr Cercek that said it was working. So it was a combination of everybody saying it is miraculous combined with it actually being miraculous,” said Sascha. The participants will be followed in the long term to assess if they have actually been cured of rectal cancer.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.


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