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Cancer patient recovery amazes specialists!

Cancer patient's recovery amazes doctors

29 July 2008

A LUNG cancer patient in Edinburgh who was given just a few months to live has stunned doctors by going into remission.

The unnamed patient, a 69-year-old female ex-smoker from the Lothians, developed lung cancer in 2006. She also suffered from Crohn's Disease, an unrelated disorder which causes an uncomfortable inflammation of the bowel, and doctors suggested removing her Crohn's medication while treating the cancer.

Within six months the cancer had unexpectedly disappeared, leading doctors to conclude that the withdrawal of the drug must have been the cause. Edinburgh Royal Infirmary pathologist Dr William Wallace, the lung cancer specialist who conducted the woman's biopsies, said the chances of the cancer going into remission spontaneously were "so astronomical as to be almost nonexistent".

Dr Janet Ironside, consultant clinical oncologist at the Western General, meanwhile called the woman's case "exceptional".

However, Dr Wallace said there was little chance that their findings could be used to formulate a new cure for cancer.

He added: "The Crohn's drug she was taking suppresses the immune system in order to calm the inflammation. When the drug was removed, the woman's immune system would have kicked in and we believe this may have led to the cancer going into remission.

"However, scientist have tried injecting the proteins that cause the immune response into cancer cells with very little response. As a result, it is likely that this case will become little more than a medical curiosity."

While the case may not be able to help towards a cure for cancer, it may lead to further guidelines to prevent it in future.

The Edinburgh experts have written to the New England Journal of Medicine warning that there is now "real concern" over the risk of cancer associated with the woman's medication, known as anti-TNFs.

Professor Jack Satsangi, professor of gastroenterology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "The last thing we want to do is cause a scare so it's important that these findings are discussed in context.

"Crohn's disease is very serious disorder and these drugs can have life-changing effects for their users, so it will be up to doctors and patients to balance the benefits with any newly-identified risks associated with the drugs."



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