‘A lot of happy tears’: Cancer ‘disappears’ in every patient in a small drug trial


In a remarkable achievement, early trials of a drug to treat rectal cancer led to remission in every participant. The trial was small, with just 12 patients, however, patients and doctors are stunned after seeing the results. During the trial, which was conducted in the US, patients took the drug dostarlimab for six months. After the set period, scans of the participants came back completely clear and there was no identifiable cancer. The study is published on Sunday (June 6) in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study is backed by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. 

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Cancer patients usually go through difficult treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. In the case of rectal cancer, some of the patients even need colostomy bags. Patients sometimes also get permanent complications like bowel, urinary and erectile dysfunction. 

Meanwhile, the latest trial appears to be a blessing for all those who are seeking treatments. Dr Andrea Cercek, who is a co-author of the study, told the Times that “there were a lot of happy tears”. 

Cercek is an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In a press release from the hospital, Cercek said, “It’s incredibly rewarding…to get these happy tears and happy 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.'” 

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Dr Luis A. Diaz Jr. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center told The New York Times, “I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer.” Dr Diaz is one of the study authors. 

During the trial, it has been revealed that the patients took the drug every three weeks for six months. The standard chemoradiotherapy and surgery were set to follow if the tumours returned. But they didn’t. 

Notably, the patients were all in similar stages of their cancer. 

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