Now, Rutstein hopes to build on this progress by exploring the potential benefits of bringing immunotherapy into the neoadjuvant (before surgery), adjuvant (after surgery) and peri-operative (both before and after surgery) settings. The science of cancer and the immune system supports this effort.
“In earlier stages of cancer, patients’ immune systems may be more intact, potentially making them better candidates for immunotherapy,” said Rutstein. “Additionally, tumor burden is often lower post-surgery, enabling the possibility for either a long-term clinical benefit or cure with systemic treatment.”
This insight is important to physicians like Professor Girard, who is eager to help his patients achieve better outcomes.
“The ultimate goal of treatment, whether treatment is given in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant or peri-operative setting, is to prevent recurrence. In other words, our aim is to improve survival rates and long-term outcomes for patients,” he said.
In the past few years, there have been noteworthy advances in research evaluating immunotherapy in earlier stages of cancer. The next step? According to Professor Girard, further studies should prioritize identifying which patients may respond best to immunotherapy in earlier disease settings by analyzing biomarkers and their interactions with the immune system.