"I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer."

That was said by Dr. Luis Alberto Diaz, Jr to The New York Times, in response to the results of a trial of a new experimental drug used to treat cancer. The drug in question is called dostarlimab, and was only administered to 12 patients with rectal cancer.

The results, while in a small sample size, are significant, and may be the first sign of a breakthrough in cancer research.

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Doctors in New York See Positive Results from New Cancer Treatment Drug

As described in an article on Live Science, an experimental rectal cancer drug caused 12 patients to see their tumors begin to disappear. Not only that, but the article also asserts that none of the patients have seen any major side effects as of the time of publishing.

The small-scale trial was conducted at MSK Cancer Center in New York City, right here in the Empire State.

The context quote included at the top of this story from Dr. Diaz is such that no clinical trial has seem remission in every patient included in the test. That is, in essence, a first in the history of cancer, and cancer treatment.

So, how did this all happen? Well, the drug being used here is described as a checkpoint inhibitor, meaning that it strengthens the immune system's ability to fight cancer cells, and in theory, allows the body to fight the disease without the need for radiation or chemotherapy.

The hands of a scientist using forceps to extract chorion from Zebrafish embryos / Unsplash (National Cancer Institute)
The hands of a scientist using forceps to extract chorion from Zebrafish embryos / Unsplash (National Cancer Institute)

The patients in the test were given 500 milligrams of the drug every three weeks during a six-month period, and were monitored for progress throughout. The expectation was that the patients would see a gradual decrease of symptoms, and a combination of current methods of cancer treatment would be used in order to start the remission process.

As of now, all twelve patients have required zero further treatment.

Now, because this test is so ground-breaking in nature, everything that the doctors are learning, they're learning for the first time. So, the results are being seen for the first time, and as such, anything that happens after the initial round of medication is completely foreign. Because of that, doctors are unsure if the cancer will return in any of the patients, and if so, how long it will take for them to see it return.

To put this as bluntly as possible, this drug is as experimental as an experimental drug can be. Nothing has been cured, nothing is a "thing of the past", and in total, not much has changed.

That being said, doctors in New York have seen initial results that surpass basically any previous cancer drug trial in recorded medical history, and if nothing else, there's a glimmer of hope for the future of cancer treatment.

In the mean time, please consider donating to the American Cancer Society, which you can do by clicking here.

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