New Drug That “Melts Away” Tumors is Great for Bowel Cancer Patients

( – An immunotherapy drug that “melts away” tumors could increase the chances of curing some bowel cancers and it could replace the need for surgery.

The drug, Pembrolizumab, blocks a specific protein that is on immune cells that will seek out and destroy cancer cells. A clinical trial conducted found that there was an increase in becoming cancer-free in patients if they took this drug before surgery instead of going through chemotherapy.

The study was performed by the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, University Hospital Southampton, University College London Hospital, St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, the University of Glasgow, and University College London.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust’s Professor Mark Saunders said, “Immunotherapy prior to surgery could well become a ‘gamechanger’ for these patients with this type of cancer.”

He continued, “Not only is the outcome better, but it saves patients from having more conventional chemotherapy, which often has more side effects. In the future, immunotherapy may even replace the need for surgery.”

With a nearly 50% mortality rate, Bowel cancer is the second most fatal cancer type worldwide, according to the World Health Organization; annually there are almost two million cases.

In the trial, thirty-two total patients had either stage two or three bowel cancer. All of the patients were given Pembrolizumab and fifty-nine percent of them were cancer-free after receiving the drug. In the remaining forty-one percent, they were cancer-free after surgery. In all, every patient in the trial was cancer-free by the end of it.

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