Keytruda: Cure for advanced endometrial cancer?

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Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:14 AM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus, is the second most common form of cancer in women worldwide. When surgery and chemotherapy don’t work, the five-year survival rate is just 17 percent. Now, there’s an FDA-approved immunotherapy that experts say may be life-changing for women with advanced endometrial cancer.

This year alone, about 50,000 American women will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer, also known as uterine cancer. Chemotherapy can be effective, but not for every woman.

“I would tell patients, if your cancer comes back, it ultimately will win. It ultimately will kill you,” gynecologic oncologist at The Ohio State University, Dr. David O’Malley emphasizes.

Now, new research shows the cancer immunotherapy drug, Pembrolizumab, or Keytruda, is effective for treating aggressive endometrial cancer. Researchers tested the drug on patients with certain genetic gene mutations – MMR deficient, or MSI-high tumors. Keytruda works on the cell receptors that prevent the immune system from fighting the cancer.

Dr. O’Malley explains, “The cancer’s very smart. The immune cells get there, but the immune cells can’t do their job. And so, what this agent does is remove those blockers.”

Researchers say in this study, 48 percent of patients with advanced endometrial cancer had a partial, or even complete response.

“I didn’t think I would see that in my lifetime – cured of recurrent cancer based on these therapies,” Dr. O’Malley expresses.

Keytruda is already FDA approved for treating several other cancers including melanoma, lung, head and neck, cervical and stomach cancer.

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