Immunotherapy is a likely new tool in the armamentarium against certain types of cancer, in a selective group of patients. Normally, our body’s natural protection consists of cells that are tirelessly involved in identifying, attacking, and digesting any foreign body, any micro-organisms or any abnormal or damaged body cell. In cancers, the body’s ability for such an “identify-to-kill” defensive action is lost, as the cancer cells develop mechanisms to evade the body’s defenses. Immunotherapy is a new approach that uses the body’s immunity to identify the abnormal antigens on the abnormal cells and attack cancer cells, which are not in alignment with our body’s ecosystem. Immunotherapies are unique in their mode of action as compared to chemotherapy and are slightly different from targeted therapy.
Immunotherapy and targeted therapy
Types of immune-therapy
Different types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer. These include:-
• Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which are drugs that obstruct immune checkpoints. These checkpoints are a normal part of the immune system and keep immune responses from being too strong. By blocking them, these drugs allow immune cells to react more strongly to cancer.
• T-cell transfer therapy, which is a treatment that boosts the innate ability of your T cells to fight cancer. In this treatment, immune cells are taken from your tumor. Those that are most effective against your cancer are selected or changed in the lab to better attack your cancer cells, raised in large batches, and put back into your body through a needle in a vein. T-cell transfer therapy may further be called adoptive cell therapy, adoptive immunotherapy, or immune cell therapy.
• Monoclonal antibodies, which are immune system proteins formed in the lab that is designed to bind to specific targets on cancer cells. Some monoclonal antibodies mark cancer cells so that they will be better seen and defeated by the immune system. Such monoclonal antibodies are a type of immunotherapy. Monoclonal antibodies may similarly be called therapeutic antibodies.
• Treatment vaccines, which work toward cancer by boosting your immune system’s response to cancer cells. Treatment vaccines are different from the ones that help block disease.
• Immune system modulators, which improve the body’s immune response against cancer. Some of these agents attack specific parts of the immune system, whereas others attack the immune system in a more general way.
Cancers in which immuno-therapy can be used
Immunotherapy and targeted therapies have been used commonly, with good results, in certain cancers like :
A) Hematological malignancies: Blood cancers like Lymphomas, Certain leukemias like CLL, CML, certain kinds of ALL, etc.
B) solid-tumor malignancies: Cancers of the Breast, Head and Neck, Lung, Colon, Uterus, Ovarian, Esophagus, Kidneys, Stomach, Sarcomas on muscles), Urinary bladder, Melanomason Skin, etc.
How is immunotherapy given?
Different forms of immunotherapy may be given in various ways. These include:
• Intravenous (IV): The immunotherapy goes directly into a vein.
• Oral: The immunotherapy comes in pills that you swallow.
• Topical: The immunotherapy comes in a lotion that you rub on your skin. This kind of immunotherapy can be used for very early skin cancer.
• Intravesical: The immunotherapy goes straight into the bladder.
Does immunotherapy is 100% effective, and can it be given in all stages of cancers?
Cancers that are in early stages and amenable to surgery are mostly curable, although there are chances of early or late recurrences, depending on the nature of cancers. Cancers in advanced stages are considered incurable, and hence can be treated and restrained to some extent, but not curable fully. Such cancers have a higher risk of recurrences or progression. The diagnosis and survival of the cancer patients depend on a lot of factors including the type, nature, and extent of the tumor, the overall fitness of the patients, and previous responses to treatment. In non-curable cancers, the intention of treatment is disease control and assuring a good quality of life for the patient. Unfortunately, to date, none of the treatment modalities noted above can ensure or guarantee a 100% cure or control. The response rates of cancer, to one or all of the above modalities, vary and is depending mainly on the type, nature, and extent of cancer.
Where do you go for immunotherapy?
Oncoxpert is the cancer specialist who gives Immunotherapy to treat cancers, it utilizes the body’s own immune system to identify and attack the cancer cells by unmasking them and neutralizing their evasive mechanisms. Those therapies have been tried and tested in recent times, and have been approved in certain cancers in a certain subset of patients.