Today’s Solutions: November 29, 2021

There are about 12,200 new head and neck cancer cases in the UK every year, and many of these patients are diagnosed at advanced stages when the disease is very difficult to treat. The standard treatment currently offered to many patients with advanced cancer is “extreme” chemotherapy, which can have serious side effects. A recent medical breakthrough, however, could offer better, kinder treatments for these patients and increase their chances of survival.

As part of a landmark trial, a cocktail of immunotherapy medications employed patients’ immune systems to kill cancer cells in their body and prompted “a positive trend in survival,” according to scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, and the Royal Marsden NHS foundation trust.

A patient who was expected to pass away four years ago was elated to hear the good news that only weeks after he joined the study, his tumor had “completely disappeared,” he told The Guardian. The 77-year-old man is now cancer-free and spent and enjoyed last week on a cruise off the coast of the UK with his wife.

The new treatment consists of a combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab medications, which proved to reduce the size of tumors in the terminally ill head and neck cancer patients. In some cases, the doctors were surprised to find no detectable sign of disease, as the tumor vanished altogether.

In addition to boosting the long-term survival chances of patients, the treatment also prompted far fewer side effects compared with the often grueling nature of chemotherapy.

Though the ICR said the results from the phase 3 trial, involving almost 1,000 dying head and neck cancer patients, were early and not statistically significant, they were still “clinically meaningful,” with some patients living months and even years longer and suffering fewer side effects.

“Despite the lack of statistical significance, these results are clinically meaningful,” said Prof Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapies at the ICR, who led the CheckMate 651 trial. “We will need to do a longer follow-up to see whether we can demonstrate a survival benefit across all patients in the trial.”

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Italian garden installation shows us how much CO2 trees store

Trees are the lungs of our planet—we know that trees are needed because they sequester dangerous CO2 emissions, but do we really know how much we depend on them to clean the air we breathe? ... Read More

Go Cubs: The inspiring story of California’s undefeated deaf football team

The California School for the Deaf in Riverside had never won a division championship football game in its 68-year history, but that all changed this year when the team not only won a championship game ... Read More

New biomarker for Alzheimer’s discovered

Alzheimer’s is a complex neurological disease, with scientists still trying to piece together the complete puzzle of factors that contribute to its development. A number of different genetic and environmental risks have been determined─though more ... Read More

Bread and Roses uses floristry to empower refugee women in London

Rebuilding a life in a foreign country as a refugee is not an easy task. This is especially true for women, who often face more barriers than men as they are less likely to have ... Read More

Study: Schools of fish operate like a superorganism

The world under the waves is still a mystery, with 95 percent of oceans yet to be explored. Scientists are always uncovering many new and exciting aspects of this ecosystem; from the importance of fish ... Read More

New biodegradable glitter lets you sparkle guilt-free

As sparkly and magical as it is, glitter is actually a form of microplastic, and even products that claim to contain biodegradable glitter rarely actually are. This is a difficult issue to tackle because countries ... Read More