Immunotherapy of cancer

Immunotherapy of cancer

Immunotherapy of cancer

About the method

Nowadays it is impossible to imagine modern oncology, especially medication therapy, without effective functioning of the human immune system. One of the main goals that doctors pursue is increasing of drug therapy efficiency. And in this question cancer immunotherapy has great prospects.

In brief, immunotherapy represents activation of the immune system with the help of medicines.

Immunotherapy is nothing else but a method of therapeutic treatment aimed at the stimulation of anticancer immune response of the body. It affects the tumour not directly, but via the immune system.

In other words, in comparison with chemotherapy and targeted therapy, this method is focused not on the tumour. It influences immunity helping it identify cancer cells.

The patient’s immune system, possibilities of its reprogramming, and recovery of the possibility to fight against the disease have become objects of doctors’ interest.

Activation of the patient’s immunity against oncology is now becoming a theme of many researches. This method has found its realization in practices of leading oncology centres, among them is the clinic on integrative oncology Onco.Rehab.

How healthy immunity should work?

The immune system is an interconnected system of molecules, cells and organs located in all parts of the body.

The role of this system is to protect the body from harmful external factors, for example, viruses and bacteria, to resist inner threat, and malignant tumours are among them.

Immunity reacts when it faces enemies (including cancer cells) and tries to destroy them.

Healthy immunity can do it as it is an effective natural protection from cancer proliferation.

At the same time, one should understand that cancer cells occur quite often. However, the immune system can react and kill them. This process involves different types of cells, including T-cells (specific type of white blood cells). It is these cells, which look for and destroy cancer cells.

As it was mentioned above, in a healthy, stable condition immunity does win, but cancer cells can change and escape the immune attack, keeping growing and spreading. As the result the disease occurs.

Types of immunotherapy of cancer

It is possible to distinguish several types of immunotherapy:

  • Usage of cytokines (interferon, interleukin-2);
  • Usage of adaptive factors;
  • Vaccinotherapy (as a rule, during the research);
  • Usage of polyclonal antibodies.

During the treatment of patients with melanoma and metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) cytokines, especially interferon alfa-2b, are wide spread. The meta-analysis, which included the data of 6 randomized studies, found out that 16 of 100 patients had positive results during the treatment, showing decrease or even disappearance of tumours.

Usage of interferon alfa-2b in patients at high risk with skin melanoma after the surgery significantly minimizes the risk of recurrence of the disease and metastasis.

Результаты метаанализов при меланоме кожи показали: у пациентов, получающих интерферон альфа-2b, риск прогрессирования заболевания на 17-18% реже, чем у тех, кто интерферон не получал.

Interleukin-2, similar to interferon, is traditionally used for treating patients with melanoma and RCC.

Nowadays this type of therapy has been displaced by targeted therapy and immunotherapy, as more effective methods of cancer treatment.

Treating cancer with immunotherapy

Immune response to the tumour can be described as a chain of reactions, where a flaw in one link blocks the whole cycle.

It includes the following stages:

  • Cancer cells express antigens, which differ them from normal ones;
  • Antigens are seized and processed by antigen-presenting cells, for example, by dendritic cells;
  • Antigen is presented by cells of the immune system, including T- and B-lymphocytes.
  • The immune system recognizes and responses to these antigens, first of all, thanks to the production of cytotoxic antigen-specific T-cell responses and the development of immunological memory.
  • Cytotoxic effector T-cells reach mutated cells and attack them.

The majority of tumour cells die even before the appearance of clinical symptoms of cancer, some of them are equalized by the immune system until something changes this balance.

Treatment of tumours with the help of immunotherapy

Immunotherapy of cancer as a treating method is widely used, for example, in cases of:

  • widespread metastatic processes;
  • 3 and 4 stages of cancer.

This method can be applied almost to all kinds of tumours, e. g. genitourinary cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer. But the best results were achieved in the treatment of melanoma.

One should understand that immunotherapy of cancer is a very good medication option, but not a panacea. That is why Onco.Rehab clinic uses this important method as a part on integrative oncology.

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