New endometrial cancer treatment can reduce recurring tumors by 70%

A combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy could help women with advanced endometrial cancer live longer, NBC News reported March 27.

Two studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested combinations of immunotherapy with chemotherapy. Currently, immunotherapy is approved only as a second line of treatment, after chemotherapy for endometrial cancer. The studies suggest immunotherapy has significant advantages when used as part of the first line of treatment.

"Endometrial cancer is one of the few cancers that is rising, increasing in mortality in the United States," senior study author Carol Aghajanian, MD, a medical oncologist specializing in gynecologic cancers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, told NBC News. "Unfortunately, very few treatments have been developed specifically for it."

The first study found that adding pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy drug with the brand name Keytruda, to standard chemotherapy reduced the risk of the endometrial cancer returning by up to 70 percent, depending on the type of tumor.

Some patients who received the combination treatment had an average of 13.1 months before their disease progressed, compared to 8.7 months for those who had only chemotherapy. The effect was more dramatic for women with a mismatch repair-deficient tumor.

The second study used a chemo-combination therapy that included a monoclonal antibody called dostarlimab. The risk of the cancer returning was reduced by up to 61.4 percent up to two years after treatment, depending on the type of tumor.

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