These recent cancer-free study results have taken the field of cancer care by storm…

Because what happened in this clinical trial is usually unheard of – all of the patients who took part in the trial became cancer-free after being put on a certain type of immunotherapy that was matched to their genetics.

Our team of cancer research scientists has been using immunotherapy on cancer patients with similar results for over seven years now. We pride ourselves on always staying well ahead of the curve when it comes to cancer treatments and diagnostics. And this recent study proves it – what is ‘new’ to even advanced cancer centres such as Sloan Kettering is, in fact, old news to our team!

Let us explain.

We have known for many years that this protocol can produce astounding results…because we have seen it happen time and again with many of our patients.

However, what the majority of people miss is the mechanism behind why certain types of immunotherapy produce these incredible results in certain types of cancers.

Can the treatment from the cancer-free study work for YOU?

The burning question that any cancer patient will likely have, after reading about this study, is:

How can you know if this drug (immunotherapy) will work for you?

Well, I have some good news for you…

This is exactly what our team is here to answer for you.

It all has to do with your cancer’s molecular profile and finding out as much information as possible about your genetic make-up. This is why we use a variety of genetic testing tools, including broad panel tumor DNA sequencing and RNA over-expression testing.

But first let’s back up the bus a bit…

And dive into how this specific study was able to achieve its stunning results.

We want to remove the mystery and hyperbole around the results so that patients like you can understand how new treatments like immunotherapy might be able to work for you.

(And that while immunotherapy won’t work for everyone, there are still many other great targeted treatments – hundreds and hundreds! – that may work just as well for you instead.)

So let’s quickly go over who Alex Rolland is and why he’s worth listening to, when it comes to cancer care.

Who is Alex Rolland and why should you trust his expertise?

Alex Rolland is CTOAM’s chief research director & co-founder, with 25+ years experience as a highly respected research scientist in the field of precision cancer medicine and oncogenomics. Alex did his PhD studies in Medical Genetics (ABD) at University of British Columbia and the renowned Terry Fox Laboratory in Vancouver and British Columbia Cancer Agency.

Significantly, Alex has spent much of his time on the frontlines with patients in hospitals as well as in labs researching the newest diagnostic and treatment advancements. He also works directly with the medical system to explore the newest optimal treatments for patients and is currently partnering on numerous clinical trials with leading-edge hospitals and biotech companies.

Cancer-free study results – explained

We were lucky to be able to interview Alex about his thoughts on the study. Alex has been using this exact protocol on patients for a while now, so he is very familiar with seeing patients go from being in dire health to entering complete remission.

Alex explains the study and its results:

“In this trial, they gave patients neoadjuvant immune therapy using a new PD-1 inhibitor called Dostarlimab. This drug binds to the PD-1 receptor on CD8 positive T cells (the ones that attack tumours) and prevent the cancers from disabling the T-cells.

Standard neoadjuvant (prior to surgery) chemoradiation is given to rectal cancer patients in order to shrink their tumours prior to surgery. This is because it makes the surgery easier due to less tissue needing to be removed.

Neoadjuvant chemoradiation results in a pCR (a Pathological Complete Response with no evidence of cancer) in about 14% of patients with metastatic rectal cancer. Meaning, it provides pCR results and very high long-term survival rates in a disease that typically has a poor prognosis.

When an immunotherapy drug (PD-1 inhibitor) was added to the standard neoadjuvant chemoradiation, it boosted the rate of pCR from 14% to about 40%. That’s a massive increase in patients experiencing long-term remission and, as we mentioned, we’ve been helping our patients experience this for over 7 years.

Just recently, for example, we convinced a doctor to add a PD-1 inhibitor to a rectal cancer patient’s neoadjuvant chemoradiation and the patient achieved a pCR! Again, pCR means pathological complete response with NO evidence of cancer. This is the goal of any cancer patient!

Importantly, this speaks to an outcome we are seeing with increasing frequency in a variety of cancers. And genetic testing to match patients to the perfect treatment is the key.

We now know that the primary tumour of a cancer tends to have antigens and surface markers that allow the immune system to better recognize it as a cancer and to make a repertoire of immune cells to target it. These antigens are often lost in the metastatic tumours.

Therefore, adding neoadjuvant PD-1 inhibitors to standard chemoradiation provides a time sensitive opportunity to gain a pCR and provide the immune system a repertoire of immune cells that can recognize and destroy the cancer and reduce risk of recurrence.

In fact, we are seeing this theme of increased pCR from neoadjuvant chemoradiation plus PD-1 inhibitors in many cancers that do not normally respond to PD-1 inhibitors including pancreatic, triple negative breast cancers and even glioblastoma multiforme (brain tumours).

However, the study that we are talking about actually involved a group of patients who had a molecular feature called mismatch repair deficiency (MMR).

We have known for many years that these PD-1 drugs work well in patients with cancers that have MMR, microsatellite high (MSI-H), or high tumour mutation burden (TMB)…but the reality is that these patients are typically only offered them after doing years of standard chemotherapy.

So while the patients in this trial were already expected to have a good response to this drug, what was different is that the patients in this trial were given the immune therapy first (rather than later on in their disease after standard chemotherapy, etc.).

After the neoadjuvant immune therapy was completed, any patients who did not have a pCR would get standard chemoradiation.

However, all patients achieved a pCR and no patients have had any further treatments yet.

I expect we will be seeing a lot more of neoadjuvant chemo/radiation/immune therapy in a variety of different cancers as we have been using this approach for many years (when possible) and have seen some amazing results.

In summary, Precision Cancer Medicine means the right treatment, for the right patient, at the right time.

This study speaks to all three of these conditions.”

Get the treatment you need!

Thanks to Alex for his time and expertise. Hopefully his explanation above helps you to better understand why the study results were so positive, and the hope that Precision Medicine brings to patients.

With time, treatments will only continue to improve. So stay strong and keep empowering yourself about your options.

As always, we want to make sure that you have the information you need to access the most beneficial treatment for your cancer.

If you’d like to speak with Alex directly about what your best treatment options are, you can register for a Precision Second Opinion. This is a 60-minute virtual consultation, where you get to speak with Alex one-to-one about your case. He’ll provide you with a written report that you can share with your oncologist, which includes treatment options proven to work better than your current treatment.

Here’s what other folks have said about their experience with getting a second opinion from Alex:

“I am very grateful to have had a phone consultation with CTOAM at Alex. Knowing it is a private facility I was expecting a hard sales pitch with exorbitant costs as I’ve seen with other private medical businesses. I was delighted with the genuine care and honest information I was provided about how and when they could best assist me, and how I could already start advocating for myself and seek the best care options before I am ready to seek their services and expertise. I am really grateful that there are experts to help take the weight of endless overwhelming research from patients who are doing all they can to navigate the nightmarish world of cancer. Thank you Alex!”

– Katie M.

“Yeah, I would hands-down recommend CTOAM. You know, you can’t turn back time. I just wish we had known about Alex and CTOAM at the time of diagnosis for us. I think it would have saved both of us a lot of stress and all of that. The last almost five years have been so tough. Had we been involved with you at the very beginning, it would have made everything so much easier.”

– Erin H.

“I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. My call today with Alex was invaluable. You came into our lives at the perfect time. It’s rare to just be able to talk without a sales pitch. I could tell that my needs were more important. Alex was genuine, knowledgeable and passionate and that’s what I need…I wanted you to know how much this has meant to me and my family.” 

– Brenda L.

Not quite ready to get a Second Opinion?

You can also register for a free 30-minute cancer care strategy with our Cancer Advocacy Specialist, Michelle Morand.

And if you’d like to receive regular email updates with the newest information on cancer research and treatment options, sign up for our newsletter. You can unsubscribe anytime.

Remember…when it comes to cancer, knowledge is power!

You always have more options than you think. You just might need a bit of support finding them…and that’s exactly what our team is here to help you with.

Published by on June 14, 2022