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Researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, MSK, have succeeded in curing cancer with the help of immunotherapy. The patients would normally have undergone radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, but were now relieved of such procedures.
The trial started two years ago. All 14 patients who received immunotherapy were completely cured and none of them have experienced any returning cancer. Even the researchers behind the experiment are surprised at how effective the treatment has been.
- First, we had a completely cured patient who did not need any other treatment. Then we had the next patient who also did not need surgery or radiation. Then a third patient. Soon enough, ten patients had been cured. It is absolutely incredible, says Luis Diaz Jr, an oncologist at MSK and one of the researchers behind the experiment, in a press release.
All patients had a specific type of cancer that affects 5-10 percent of all people who get colorectal cancer.
Simply put, the tumors with this type of cancer can turn off the immune system's ability to see the tumors as harmful cells that should be fought. But immunotherapy activates the immune system again so that it can attack and destroy the tumors.
An advantage of immunotherapy is that it does not have any serious side effects, unlike traditional treatments. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery can, among other things, cause lifelong incontinence, impotence, and involuntary infertility.
The researchers will now move on to see if their method is also effective against other types of cancer.
- We hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are currently starting trials with patients who have prostate, pancreatic, and stomach cancers, says Luis Diaz Jr.