What you need to know about:

Immunotherapy for cancer

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Overview of

Immunotherapy for cancer

in Thailand

Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment method which relies on the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. When a foreign substance enters the body, the immune system is called into action in order to force the substance out. Immunotherapy treatment supports the immune system in its fight to control and eliminate cancer cells.

Goals of

Immunotherapy for cancer

Research into the treatment of cancer through immunotherapy is still ongoing. Numerous types of medications used alongside immunotherapy have already been cleared for use in the U.S. These can be used as the main treatment or in conjunction with other standardized treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and/or surgery. Currently, immunotherapy techniques are being utilized in the fight against the following types of cancer: -Skin cancer in its aggressive stages -Some types of lung cancer -Kidney cancer which is unresponsive to other treatments -Head and neck cancer which is unresponsive to chemotherapy -Bladder cancer which is unresponsive to chemotherapy -Lymphoma -Liver cancer Currently, monoclonal antibodies are the most widely used form of cancer immunotherapy. They have been approved for use in treating several types of leukemia and lymphoma, as well as some types of breast, colorectal, head and neck cancers. Cytokines are a second type of immunotherapy, which are hormone-like molecules that regulate immune cells. Interferon and interleukin-2 are two cytokines used commonly to treat patients with melanoma and kidney cancer. Cancer vaccines have been studied for several decades, but until recently, advances in this field have been slower than for other forms of immunotherapy. For example, new vaccines against the human papilloma virus (HPV) help prevent women from getting cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer. Vaccines against hepatitis B virus (HBV) may lower some people's risk of getting liver cancer. These vaccines don't target cancer cells; they target the viruses that can cause these cancers.

Price of

Immunotherapy for cancer

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Pros and cons of

Immunotherapy for cancer

Pros

-Immunotherapy may work when other treatments don’t. Some cancers (like skin cancer) don’t respond well to radiation or chemotherapy but start to go away after immunotherapy.  

-It can help other cancer treatments work better. Other therapies you have, like chemotherapy, may work better if you also have immunotherapy.  

-It causes fewer side effects than other treatments. This is because it targets just your immune system and not all the cells in your body.

-Your cancer may be less likely to return. When you have immunotherapy, your immune system learns to go after cancer cells if they ever come back. This is called immunomemory, and it could help you stay cancer-free for a longer time.  

Cons

-You might have a bad reaction. The area where the medication goes into your body could hurt, itch, swell, turn red, or get sore.  

-It can harm organs and systems. Some of these drugs can cause your immune system to attack organs like your heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, or intestines.  

-It isn’t a quick fix. In some cases, immunotherapy takes longer to work than other treatments. Your cancer may not go away quickly.  

-It doesn’t work for everyone. Right now, immunotherapy works for less than half the people who try it. Many people only have a partial response. This means your tumor could stop growing or get smaller, but it doesn’t go away. Doctors aren’t sure yet why immunotherapy helps only some people.  

-Your body could get used to it. Over time, immunotherapy may stop having an effect on your cancer cells. This means that even if it works at first, your tumor could start to grow again.

How it works:

Immunotherapy for cancer

Treatments may be given daily, weekly or monthly depending on the type of therapy, the type and stage of cancer, and how your body reacts to the treatment. Some immunotherapy treatments may be given in cycles, meaning time is given between treatments to allow your body to recover and regenerate healthy cells. Treatment also includes frequent doctor visits for testing to ensure they are working and to monitor your health. This includes physical tests as well as blood tests and other scans. Immunotherapy for cancer is divided into 4 main types, according to the cell mechanisms or actions in support of the immune system as follows: 1. Monoclonal Antibodies – These are synthetic proteins that imitate the body’s own antibodies. For cancer treatment, these antibodies are designed to target and attack specific parts of cancer cells. 2. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors – Some cancers go unnoticed by hiding from the body’s natural defenses. Immune checkpoint inhibitors target the body’s control and signaling system which differentiates between normal and foreign cells. Thus, these types of drugs have been developed to improve the immune system’s ability to specifically target and destroy cancer cells. 3. Cancer Vaccines – This method stimulates the immune system into destroying cancer cells or even preventing cancer cells from taking hold in the first place. 4. Other Non-Specific Immunotherapies – These are types of immunotherapies that do not specifically target cancer cells but rather stimulate the whole of the body’s immune syst

Preparation before

Immunotherapy for cancer

Pre - treatment

Before you begin immunotherapy, it’s important to discuss with your doctors aobut many important aspects related to health. Some of thse include the disccusion about whether you:  -Have an autoimmune disease -Have had an organ or stem cell transplant  -Have breathing problems  -Have liver disease  -Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant  -Are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding  -Be sure to also tell your doctor your complete medical history, including any changes in medications. Once you begin immunotherapy, it’s very important that you keep all your scheduled appointments. Taking regular and consistent doses is critical.   Because of how immunotherapy might affect your system, it’s important to tell every doctor taking care of you that you’re on immunotherapy.

Recovery after

Immunotherapy for cancer

Post - treatment

You will have regular check-ups with your cancer specialist, blood tests and different types of scans to check whether the cancer has responded to treatment.  It may take some time to know if immunotherapy has worked because some people have a delayed response. Rarely, the cancer may appear to get worse before improving.  You may wonder whether having side effects means the treatment is working. Immunotherapy side effects do indicate that the treatment is affecting your immune system in some way, but the link with treatment success is unclear. Many people who have had no side effects have still seen improvements in the cancer.  Sometimes it can be tricky to know which of your symptoms may be related to the cancer and which may be side effects of the immunotherapy. Make sure to discuss this with your cancer care team.  A good response from immunotherapy will make the cancer shrink. In some cases, the cancer remains stable, which means it doesn’t increase in size on scans but also does not shrink or disappear. People with stable disease can continue to have a good quality of life.

Risks & side effects

Although utilizing immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer is effective, there are, unfortunately, some negative side effects which come along with the treatment. Patients undergoing immunotherapy may experience symptoms such as fever, upset stomach or diarrhea, nausea, and mouth ulcers, all of which are natural responses by the body’s immune system. Generally, these symptoms will gradually disappear over time. Immunotherapy to treat cancer is a relatively new method, and one that has highly specific effects. It is important that patients wishing to undergo immunotherapy have a detailed health assessment prior to undergoing the treatment in order to fully understand what’s involved.

FAQs:

Immunotherapy for cancer

What is the advantage of immunotherapy over classic oncological procedures?

It is commonly known that surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation also damage the healthy cells of the body. That can lead to serious side effects. The IOZK Immunotherapy, on the other hand, is targeted – only malignant tumor cells are attacked. Due to this, there are virtually no side effects.  Radiation and chemotherapy damage cells that divide quickly, however, they are not effective against “dormant” tumor stem cells. Thus, it can be presumed that the therapy is only effective during the course of treatment. As, for example, the hair starts growing again after the end of chemotherapy, so too can tumor cells start growing again. In contrast, the IOZK Immunotherapy can lead to the formation of an immunological memory, which leads to continuing protection as is known, for example, from vaccinations. It is also potentially active against tumor stem cells.

Is immunotherapy effective against all types of cancers?

In principle, an immunotherapy is effective for the treatment of all malignant tumors: the immune system can reach tumor cells in all tissues and organs. However, the efficacy is not researched equally well for all types of cancer. Immunotherapies have thus far been primarily studied in cancers where no good, effective conventional form of treatment is available, such as malignant melanoma and glioblastoma.

What are some of the main types of cancer immunotherapy?

There are several main types of immunotherapy used to treat cancer, and many are being studied. These include:  -Checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs basically take the ‘brakes’ off the immune system, which helps it recognize and attack cancer cells.  -Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy: This therapy takes some T-cells from a patient's blood, mixes them with a special virus that makes the T-cells learn how to attach to tumor cells, and then gives the cells back to the patient so they can find, attach to, and kill the cancer.  -Cytokines: This treatment uses cytokines (small proteins that carry messages between cells) to stimulate the immune cells to attack cancer.  -Immunomodulators: This group of drugs generally boosts parts of the immune system to treat certain types of cancer.  -Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are substances put into the body to start an immune response against certain diseases. We usually think of them as being given to healthy people to help prevent infections. But some vaccines can help prevent or treat cancer.  -Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs or MoAbs): These are man-made versions of immune system proteins. mAbs can be very useful in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell.  -Oncolytic viruses: This treatment uses viruses that have been modified in a lab to infect and kill certain tumor cells..

When is immunotherapy used?

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are still the main treatments for many cancers but some people with particular types of cancer may benefit from checkpoint immunotherapy.To work out if checkpoint immunotherapy is suitable for you, your cancer specialist will consider the type and stage of cancer, your treatment history, your future treatment options and your overall health. Even if immunotherapy is recommended as a treatment, it is difficult to predict whether it will work. The rate of success varies depending on the type of cancer. So far, most people who have been treated with checkpoint immunotherapy have had advanced cancer. This means either the cancer has come back and spread after the initial treatment, or it was at an advanced stage when they were first diagnosed. For particular cancer types, such as melanoma, immunotherapy is starting to become available for earlier stage cancers.

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