Bowel cancer: Experimental drug found to cause tumours to disappear in 100% of patients

Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms

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In an unprecedented move in cancer treatment, an entire group of patients have seen their bowel cancer tumours disappear as a result of a new drug.

Known as dostarlimab, the medicine was administered as part of a trial conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in the United States.

As well as curing all patients, the drug also caused no side effects.

The results have surprised experts, one described them as “cause for great optimism”.

However, while this is a positive step in the right direction for bowel cancer treatment, there is one caveat to the study; there were only 12 participants in the study.

As a result, more research is required into a larger patient cohort in order to establish dostarlimab’s overall efficacy against bowel cancer.

If dostarlimab shows the same effectiveness across a much larger group, it could transform cancer care for thousands of patients around the world.

Further details of the trial have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Subsequently, while the trial is positive news for patients of the future or those in the early stages of treatment for bowel cancer, it is far too late for thousands of patients of the present.

Bowel cancer has remained in the nation’s consciousness this year in large part thanks to the work and determination of campaigner Dame Deborah James.

Since her diagnosis in 2016, Dame James has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of cancer and funds for cancer research.

Earlier this year however, Dame James announced she had entered end-of-life care.

However, Dame Deborah has not let her diagnosis stop her from campaigning or trying to change future patient outcomes.

A crowd fund was set up to raise money for cancer research and has so far accumulated over £6 million of donations.

Dame Deborah has been honoured for her work and had a flower named after her at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

While these gestures are no doubt positive, they do not change the ultimate reality of her situation.

In her final months, Dame Deborah has talked about tackling “life’s last taboo”, dying.

She said: “Dying is really hard. I’ve been consumed by anger this week, in all honesty. I’m frustrated with my situation because I don’t want to die.

“I’m scared because I don’t know what to expect. What’s really hard is non talks about death.”

Dame Deborah added: “I hope by talking about [death] a bit, I might bring some comfort to others.”

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