Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment modality that has become increasingly popular. It is a type of cancer treatment that leverages a patient's own immune system to fight the disease. Unlike conventional cancer treatments that directly target cancer cells, immunotherapy helps to enhance the body's natural ability to fight cancer. Here's what you need to know.
What Is Immunotherapy?
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the immune system is already fighting the disease by producing a response to eliminate cancer cells. Immunotherapy works to enhance this response by making cancer cells more 'visible' to the immune system, thereby increasing the chance of successful cancer elimination. Immunotherapy comes in different forms, including immune checkpoint inhibitors that block certain proteins that cancer cells use to evade the immune system, leaving cancer nowhere to hide.
Who Can Benefit from Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is useful in the fight against cancer, particularly for people with:
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Advanced stages of cancer
Additionally, patients who have failed multiple standard treatments may find immunotherapy helpful. Immunotherapy can be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments to achieve the best treatment outcome.
What Are the Benefits of Immunotherapy?
The benefits of immunotherapy are significant and include the following:
- Fewer side effects. Since immunotherapy works with the body's own immune system, it has far fewer side effects than traditional cancer treatments.
- Effectiveness. Immunotherapy can be more effective than other treatments in certain patients, leading to better outcomes. In fact, immunotherapy has also shown to be effective in cases where other treatments have failed, providing hope to those who are running out of options.
- Improves odds. When combined with other treatments, like chemotherapy, it can improve your odds. Undergoing two forms of treatment allows your medical team to attack the cancerous cells from two different angles, improving your chances of success.
Are There Different Types of Immunotherapy?
There are many types of immunotherapy, each with its unique set of benefits and risks. Some of the most common types of immunotherapy include monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and adoptive cell therapy. In each case, the treatment aims to help the immune system better recognize, target, and eliminate the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is a promising and life-changing treatment for people with cancer. It is already transforming the way cancer is treated, and researchers continue to explore new ways to deliver similar therapy. If you or a loved one is fighting cancer, it's important to talk to your medical team to see if immunotherapy may be appropriate. By taking advantage of the latest in cancer care, patients increase their chances of successful treatment, fewer side effects, and, ultimately, a cure.