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Why a cancer study with unprecedented results sent shockwaves through the medical community

While the research was done on a small group, it could have big implications for treating cancer.

HOUSTON — You may have heard of this study done with just over a dozen patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Center.

It delivered unprecedented results, with 100 percent of the participants going into remission after an experimental drug trial.

The patients all had rectal cancer with a relatively rare tumor mutation that tends to be more resistant to traditional cancer therapies.

So why is such a small study making big waves?

First, according to experts, even in small studies you don’t see cancer treatments work 100 percent of the time.

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This drug is classified as an immune checkpoint inhibitor, which means it works by making your immune system do the work. 

It teaches it to recognize and attack the tumor.

The patients also reported few side effects compared to the regular treatments for rectal cancer that often result in life changing side effects.

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While this treatment could be limited to patients with a similar tumor mutation, it points to a larger trend in cancer treatment.

According to experts, the future in cancer research appears to be a much more tailored approach, often using immunotherapy.

By treating patients based on cancer type and specific tumor characteristics, we could continue to see dramatic results.

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