Know what is this cancer immunotherapy? And why is this replacing chemotherapy in cancer treatments?
Chemotherapy is a widely known cancer treatment. It involves being injected with some strong medication that kills cancer cells. Depending on the type and severity of cancer, one needs to take multiple rounds of chemotherapy or even radiation along with chemotherapy.
But since chemotherapy has its side effects, medical science has found another way to fight cancer cells in the body. They have found a way to inject healthy cells into the body to boost the immune system and fight the cancer cells. This avoids all the side effects and patients have shown incitement towards this treatment.
Here is more information about chemotherapy and the new cancer treatment- immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy is currently the most practiced cancer treatment in the world. It uses powerful drugs, which are injected into the blood stream in order to fight and kill cancer cells present in the body of the patient.
It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which usually divide and grow at a faster rate. It destroys cancer cells in the body to the point where the doctor cannot detect them and makes sure they won’t grow back.
In other cases, it slows cancer down and controls the cancer cells from spreading and affecting other healthy parts of the body. Chemotherapy has also been known to shrink cancer tumors that cause pain and discomfort in patients.
2 Side effects of chemotherapy
But since chemotherapy uses high powered drugs, they come with their own set of side effects. Most of the patients undergoing chemotherapy feel extremely fatigued. This happens because the body is already weak from fighting the cancer cells and these high powered drugs make the immune system of the body work overtime.
It also causes pains like headaches, muscle pain, stomach pain and pain in other areas of the body as well. It causes lose motions in some patients as a weak body cannot handle the pressure of the drugs and cancer. One sure side effect of chemotherapy is vomiting and nausea. Taking preventive medicines before and after chemotherapy, can prevent vomiting and nausea in a patient.
3 Cancer immunotherapy and its process
Cancer immunotherapy is the new way of fighting cancer using the body’s own immune system. This can be done by stimulating the body’s immune system to work smarter against the cancer cells. Or it can be done by supplying the immune system with components like man made proteins that help it fight cancer cells.
The immune system is a smart system in the body which keeps track of everything that is normal in the body. Any new substance that is not recognized by the immune system is attacked by it. It can even destroy cancer cells, if it can be made stronger and given supplements to fight cancer. This more recently developed cancer treatment can enter the body in different ways, such as via an injection or by infusion through the veins. This will most likely depend on what sort of cancer you have been diagnosed with.
4 Types of immunotherapy
Majorly, there are 4 types of cancer immunotherapy.
Monoclonal antibodies: these are the manmade version of immune system proteins. These antibodies can be designed to treat and attack a specific part of the cancer cell.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs basically strengthen and stimulate the weak immune system into working again and recognizing and killing cancer cells.
Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are usually given to a person to fight a specific kind of illness or disease, by generating a response from the immune system. Therefore in some cases, they can be also used to prevent and fight cancer as well.
Nonspecific immunotherapies: these therapies boost the immune system in a general way, making it strong and stimulated to attack cancer cells and other diseases.
5 Benefits of immunotherapy
Immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to target a specific kind of cancer cell and destroy it. This means that it can be designed to treat many types of cancer. It has also been used to treat cancer in patients whose cancer was resistant to radiation and chemo therapy.
Cancer immunotherapy gives the doctors and patient the possibility of long term cancer remission. Since it can train the immune system to identify the specific cancer cell type, the immune system can keep those at bay for a longer period of time.
It doesn’t have the same side effects like radiation or chemotherapy. Both radiation and chemotherapy attack healthy cells in the body and destroy them along with cancer cells, they both come with a high possibility of side effects for the patient. But immunotherapy focuses on the immune system and makes it fight the cancer cells without destroying healthy body cells. The side effects of immunotherapy depend on the kind of therapy being used and range from fever to manageable autoimmune disorders.