Immunotherapy can eradicate head and neck tumors in patients with terminal cancer and enable them to live longer, researchers have found.
Scientists discovered cancer patients survive three months longer when administered two chemotherapeutic medicines and targeted antibody treatment.
The medicine reduced tumor size on patients with head and neck cancer. In some cases tumors vanished altogether.
One 77 year-old patient reported his tumor “completely disappeared” just weeks after joining the study.
Barry Ambrose of Bury St Edmunds’s throat cancer had already spread to his lungs. His only option was hospital palliative care back in 2017.
“When the research nurses called to tell me that, after two months, the tumor in my throat had completely disappeared–it was an amazing moment,” he said according to The Guardian. “While there was still disease in my lungs at that point, the effect was staggering.”
However, scan results confirmed the tumor in his throat was gone within eight weeks of starting therapy.
Fewer side effects were reported after nivolumab and ipilimumab were used together. The sample study of nearly 1,000 patients only recorded nausea, discomfort, appetite loss, and breathing difficulties.
Further testing shows similar advantages for individuals with terminal renal, skin, and bowel cancer.
A combination of immunotherapy medications results in a “positive trend in survival” by causing the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. This is the conclusion of scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
“These are promising results and demonstrate how we can better select the patients who are most likely to benefit from immunotherapy treatment,” ICR chief executive professor Kristian Helin said according to the Daily Mail.
Despite the lack of “statistical significance,” these results are “clinically meaningful” according to ICR biological cancer therapeutics specialist Kevin Harrington.
“We will need to do longer follow-up to see whether we can demonstrate a survival benefit across all patients in the trial,” said Harrington who is also consulting clinical oncologist at the Royal Marsden.
The findings were released at the Virtual Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology.