Cancer treatment has been enhanced globally due to increased chances of people getting cancer as technology improves. Procedures like surgery, radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy have been put in place in a more advanced way than it was before. Nevertheless, immunotherapy is another type of cancer treatment that has been used for few decades, and it has helped in treating patients with lung, lymphoma, melanoma cancers and many other types of cancer that have shown up.
Immunotherapy is used depending on the type of cancer; the extent of disease whereby it works well if the cancer has not reached its advanced stage. Besides, it is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy or even after surgery. Immunotherapy mainly uses the patients’ immune system to fight cancer. In this case, immunotherapies work by boosting the immune systems hence the body can fight cancer cells thereby preventing them from growing and spreading to other body parts. These therapies also work by teaching the immune system how to attack specific cells found in tumors.
There are different types of immunotherapies as discussed below;
These antibodies work by finding cancer cells in the body after which the cancer cells are destroyed and killed by the immune system. Antibodies are proteins found in the immune system that work by recognizing foreign antigens in the body and after that stimulating an immune response. Monoclonal antibodies are manmade and are the commonly used type of antibodies in the treatment of cancer. Naked and conjugated monoclonal antibodies are widely used in the treatment of cancer. Naked monoclonal antibodies purely enhance the immune system to attack cancer cells and have nothing attached to them. Conjugated monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, have both radioactive particles and chemotherapy. These particles attach to the cancer cells hence releasing medicine to the cells thereby killing them. Conjugated monoclonal antibodies reduce the side effects and promote best results of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to patients. Most of these monoclonal antibodies are injected into the patient’s veins, and they are sometimes paired with other treatments like chemotherapy or hormone therapy.
The immune system has to recognize cells to identify which cells are supposed to be attacked. Healthy cells have substances called checkpoints that identify them hence no destruction can be done to them. However, cancer turns these brakes off enabling the immune system to identify the normal cells thus hiding the tumors. Checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that help the immune system to recognize these tumor cells so that they cannot hide. These cells are identified and killed therefore hindering growth and spread of cancerous cells to other body parts. Ipilimumab, nivolumab, atezolizumab are among the examples of checkpoint inhibitors drugs that are being used in cancer patients. They treat neck, head, and lung and bladder cancers among many other cancers that have not advanced to the last stage. Checkpoints PD-1 and PDL-1 are found on the T.cells of the immune systems and are inhibited by PD-1 and PDL-1 inhibitors. In this case, these inhibitors treat melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and kidney cancers.
Cancer vaccines, cytokine therapy, and dendritic cell therapy are also types of immunotherapy that patients receive from cancer centers to improve their health as well as boost their immunity. Immunotherapy has put some patients away from chemotherapy which has adverse side effects that deteriorate the body defense mechanism of patients. In other words, immunotherapy has improved the health of patients with cancer as they do not have to rely on chemotherapy or radiotherapy to hinder growth and spread of cancer.