Immunotherapy is the new era in cancer treatment: Doctors explain
Here’s how Immunotherapy helps in killing the cancer cells and boosting the immune system. All that you need to know.
There are several ways to treat cancer – from surgery to chemotherapy. Cancer is the disease when some of the body’s cells start to grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body. Hence, it needs external help in controlling the growth. Immunotherapy is one of the processes that has shown positive results in controlling cancer. It is the process when the substances made by the body or in a laboratory are used to boost the overall immunity of the body – this further helps in finding and destroying the cancer cells. Addressing this, Dr. Sewanti Limaye, Director, Oncology and Precision medicine, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital spoke to HT Lifestyle, and said, “Decoding of the human genome in the early 2000s brought about revolutionary changes in cancer treatment with the discovery of cancer-related genetic pathways that could be targeted with novel drugs, also known as Targeted therapy. The other landmark development in cancer treatment happened with the arrival of Immunotherapy in 2010. These drugs are designed to stimulate body’s own immune system to fight cancer. They are better tolerated with minimal side effects however; severe toxicities could be seen in nearly 5%.”
Explaining how Immunotherapy words, Dr Preetam Kumar Jain, Senior Consultant Oncologist and Hematologist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai, noted down the principles of the cancer treatment:
- Immunotherapy activates body’s own immune system like T cells which then attacks the cancer cells and kills them.
- The efficacy of Immunotherapy depends on the coordination of the various Immune cells inside the tumor’s microenvironment.
- Immunotherapy basically teaches the Immune system to slow down, stop and kill the cancer cell's
- Immunotherapy creates a long-lasting memory inside the immune cells and kills the cancer cells. Due to long lasting memory, even after stopping the immunotherapy treatment, the learned Immune cells continue to fight against the cancer cells.
Speakin of the success of Immunotherapy in treating cancer patients, Dr Sewanti Limaye added, “Those patients that have an intermediate probability of responding to immunotherapy alone, are treated with chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is also being utilized in early-stage lung cancer to prevent cancer from returning. In recent approval, immunotherapy and chemotherapy have been approved for neo-adjuvant application before surgery for decreased recurrence and improved survival.”