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Immunotherapy Treats Cervical Cancer With Success

Jun 02, 2014 02:22 PM EDT

Several cases of cervical cancer have been successfully treated using a new and promising tactic. Immunotherapy helped two women who were suffering from advanced cervical cancers go into complete remission, according to new research.

The results of this research were presented on Monday at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

According to researchers from the United State's National Cancer Institute, nine women with advanced cervical cancer were treated with an experimental immunotherapy that specially crafts T cells extracted from a patient's own tumor to attack cancer cells.

The therapy - called HPV-targeted adoptive T cell therapy - successfully treated three of nine women suffering from otherwise fatal forms of advanced cervical cancer. Two of those three have been in remission for at least 11 and 18 months, respectively, after receiving treatment, while a third's condition has improved drastically, with a 39 percent reduction in tumor volume.

"These preliminary data demonstrate, not only the viability of this approach, but that gains in survival can be realized in a cancer where patients have little to no effective treatment options and where median survival is usually less than two years," said ASCO expert Don S. Dizon.

While these results are positive, researchers note that the therapy was linked to serious side effects, including low blood counts, infections and metabolic disorders. However, the fantastic recoveries achieved from such a small sample size warrant "continued investigation of HPV-TIL for cervical cancer, and possibly other HPV+ malignancies," according to a study abstract.

Immunotherapy, the authors conclude, could be a very viable treatment option for many cancer patients - not just limited to women suffering from cervical cancer.

"The field of immunotherapy has exploded in the last decade, and more and more patients are benefiting," Steven O'Day, another ASCO expert, concluded in an official statement.

Since these results have yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal, it is recommended that they be viewed as preliminary.

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