Study Gives New Hope to Patients With Rare Cancers

April 1, 2019 -- A new study suggests that there's a way to predict which patients with rare cancers will benefit from a drug combination that boosts the immune system.

Many people with rare cancers lack good treatments, and drug companies don't develop any because of small potential sales, the Associated Press reported.

This U.S. National Cancer Institute-funded study pools these patients to give them strength in numbers and new options.

"For the patients that it works for, it's phenomenal, it's life-changing ... but it's not for everybody," said study co-leader, Dr. Sandip Patel of the University of California, San Diego's Moores Cancer Center, the AP reported.

Since it started in 2017, the study has enrolled more than 550 patients in the U.S. and Canada. Currently, it's testing a combo of two immunotherapy drugs, Opdivo and Yervoy in people grouped according to their tumor type.

The research was presented Sunday at at an American Association for Cancer Research conference in Atlanta on Sunday.

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