After a trial conducted on 1000 patients across the Channel, the experimental treatment has proven its effectiveness in successfully destroying tumors in patients at the end stage. The test patients, who show few side effects, have seen their life expectancy increase significantly.
These are results that could mark a milestone in recent medical history. The testing in England of a new experimental cancer treatment has shown considerable effectiveness in terminally ill patients with tumors of the head and neck, reports the English daily The Guardian.
The drug cocktail tested is a mixture of immunotherapy products. These come to solicit the immune system of patients to kill their own cancer cells. The phenomenon seems to trigger “a positive trend in survival,” say researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.
The results of the Phase 3 trial, although early and not statistically significant, have been “clinically effective” on an ongoing basis, ICR said. This trial involved nearly 1,000 terminally ill patients with end-stage head or neck cancer. Scientists have found that the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab resulted in tumor size reduction in some of these patients. In some cases, the cancer has even disappeared completely, leaving doctors amazed that they can no longer find any detectable signs of the disease.
3 additional months of life
The combination of immunotherapy had a particularly promising success rate in a group of patients whose tumors had high levels of an immune marker, called PD-L1. The survival rates in these patients who received the experimental treatment were the highest ever reported in a first-line therapeutic trial of relapsed or metastatic head and neck cancer.
These patients lived an average of three months longer than those who received chemotherapy. The median overall survival for these patients was 17.6 months, the highest mean ever reported in this group of patients.
Reduced side effects
In addition to increasing the chances of patients’ long-term survival, scientists have also observed that immunotherapy treatment causes far fewer side effects compared to chemotherapy, a standard treatment offered to many patients with severe disease. cancer but often with heavy effects.
The addition of the two immunotherapy drugs could thus become a valuable new weapon against several forms of advanced cancer, according to the opinion of experts. Results from other trials that have used a similar combination have already suggested similar benefits for patients with end-stage kidney, skin and bowel cancer.
For example, a septagenarian from Suffolk County, suffering from neck cancer and to whom death was promised according to doctors four years ago, was among the patients who took part in the experiment. “When I was told about the trial, I didn’t hesitate to register. What did I have to lose? It turned out to be a lifeline,” he says to our team. colleagues.
Eight weeks after starting her treatment, and without a trace of side effects, tests revealed that the tumor in her throat had been eradicated.
“The treatment I have received at Royal Marsden is second to none and I am so lucky that they have found a treatment that works for me – it is the gift they continue to give me,” he exults.
12,000 cancer diagnoses per year
“These are promising results,” stressed the Guardian Professor Kristian Helin, Director General of ICR. “Immunotherapies are smarter, gentler treatments that can provide significant benefits to patients.”
“We will need to do a longer follow-up to see if we can demonstrate a survival benefit for all patients in the trial,” said Professor Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapies at ICR.
Around 12,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year, a large proportion of which is already at an advanced stage.