Cancer immunotherapy

Cancer immunotherapy

Cancer immunotherapy

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 to increase the drug therapy efficiency. And in this question cancer immunotherapy has great prospects.

In brief, immunotherapy represents the activation by means of medication.

Immunotherapy is nothing else but a method of therapeutic treatment aimed at stimulating the body's anti-cancer immune response. It affects the tumour not directly, but via the immune system.

In other words, this method, unlike chemotherapy and targeted therapy, does not target the tumour, it acts on the immune system to help it detect cancer cells.

The patient’s immune system, the possibilities of reprogramming it and restoring its ability to resist the disease have become objects of doctors’ interest.

The activation of a person's own immunity in the fight against cancer is now becoming the subject of much research, and is used in the practice of leading oncology centres, one of which is the Onco.Rehab integrative oncology clinic.

How does the immune system work normally?

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.

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

Healthy immunity manages to do this, in other words, it is the body’s 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 the immunity does win, but cancer cells can change, escape the immune attack, and continue to grow and spread. As the result the disease occurs.

Types of сancer immunotherapy

Several types of immunotherapy can be distinguished:

  • The use of cytokines (interferon, interleukin-2)
  • The use of adaptive factors
  • Vaccinotherapy (as a rule, during the research)
  • The use of monoclonal antibodies

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

The 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.

The results of meta-analyses in skin melanoma have shown that patients treated with interferon alfa-2b have a 17-18% lower risk of disease progression than those who have not received interferon.

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 distinguish them from normal ones.
  • Antigens are seized and processed by antigen-presenting cells, for example, by dendritic cells.
  • The antigen is presented to the cells of the immune system, including T- and B-lymphocytes.
  • The immune system recognizes and responds 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 have been 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 the Onco.Rehab clinic uses this important method as a part on integrative oncology.

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number of
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240 months
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