LVHN to participate in groundbreaking clinical trial for rectal cancer
SALISBURY TWP., Pa. — Lehigh Valley Health Network is the first health care system in the state to participate in a new rectal cancer trial.
The Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute now is looking for people to participate.
- Lehigh Valley Health Network will participate in a new rectal cancer trial
- It’s a groundbreaking clinical trial for those who have stage 2 and stage 3
- Patients are needed and encouraged to participate in the study
It’s a groundbreaking clinical trial for those who have stage 2 and stage 3 colorectal cancer. It was created by and began at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
The New York cancer treatment and research institute saw a 100% success rate in it 14 patients.
“We are ecstatic to participate in this study and provide more treatment options to our patients,” said Dr. Maged Khalil, an oncologist with LVHN who will be the physician lead for the trial.
Those in the trial skip traditional forms of cancer treatment and instead are treated solely with immunotherapy.
“The results to date have been nothing short of exceptional and could revolutionize how we treat rectal cancer in the future," Khalil said.
"Every patient in the initial study saw their tumors vanish without needing chemo, radiation or surgery — which we know can have life-altering side effects. Cancer care is changing rapidly, and getting better each and every day, and we are proud to be at the forefront."
Dr. Suresh Nair, chief of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, who is working closely on the clinical trial with oncologists, including Khalil, said, "It's not for everybody. It's 1 in 10."
"Patients with colorectal cancer have a high mutation rate and they have a couple of terms," Nair said. "They call them deficient MMR or MSI high tumors.
“These are tumors where the DNA repair enzymes aren't working properly and all these mutations accumulate in the cell, but it makes this group of patients extremely sensitive to immunotherapy, where their tumors responded at 100 percent rate.”
The FDA took notice of the success in the first round of patients, and let Memorial Sloan Kettering to expand its reach in Phase 2.
“We really made our national mark in cancer research on the immunotherapy front we were one of the pioneering institutions for the immunotherapy revolution."Dr. Suresh Nair, Chief, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute
Nair said the Topper Cancer Institute was chosen as one of three health networks across the country to participate in the next phase because of its track record with immunotherapies.
“We really made our national mark in cancer research on the immunotherapy front," Nair said. "We were one of the pioneering institutions for the immunotherapy revolution.
"We are involved in over 50 of these immunotherapy trials and our patients were among the first patients in the world to get medicines, the new medicines that led to FDA approval.”
LVHN is looking for patients with stage 2 and 3 rectal cancer to participate, but they may be few and far between.
“This does not apply to the colon cancer above the rectum," Nair said. "The majority of colon cancers are not in the rectum, they're above the rectum, so for that subset, and then one tenth of that subset, might only be maybe two to four patients in the Lehigh Valley in a year that would qualify for this trial.”
The trial now is open and can accommodate about 100 patients at the three health networks running the clinical trial. Those interested can visit the Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute website or call.