According to an article published in “The New England Journal of Medicine,” Dr. Andrea Cercek and Dr. Luis Diaz, Jr. employed immunotherapy that cured 14 of 14 patients suffering from rectal cancer.
The doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center achieved the 100 percent remission rate in a subset of patients by providing immunotherapy that helped the patients’ immune system overcome their rectal cancer.
The experimental investigation became the first known effort to discover if the body’s own immune system could be triggered to defeat rectal cancer before it spreads to other tissues.
Cercek and Dias, medical oncologists, were able to employ the immune cells that have a safeguard called a checkpoint.
After the rectal cancer cells had attacked the immune cells by tripping the checkpoint cells to shutdown the immune cells in order to allow the cancer cells to grow and hide, an immunotherapy agent called a checkpoint inhibitor was used to impact the immune cells in such a way that they attacked the cancer cells.
Cercek stated, “It’s incredibly rewarding to get these happy tears and emails from the patients in this study who finish treatment and realize , ‘Oh, my God, I get to keep all my normal body functions that I feared I might lose to radiation or surgery.”’
The first patient who entered the program was preparing to travel from Washington D.C. to New York for radiation treatments when Cercek called her with the good news that her rectal cancer was 100 percent in remission.
Following the first success, 13 more patients enjoyed 100 percent remissions.
According to medical statistics, 45,000 Americans are diagnosed a year with rectal cancer.
The medical breakthrough at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has paved the way for launching another study to discover whether or not immunotherapy can successfully destroy other types of cancer cells.