Cancer Immunotherapy: Defination, Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

What is Cancer Immunotherapy: Definition, Types, Advantages, and Disadvantages

The body's immune system is made up of your white blood cells plus the organs and tissues of the lymphatic system, just like your bone marrow. Its main job is to help your body to fight disease and stay healthy. Immunotherapy can help your immune system work harder or make it easier to find and remove cancer cells. Cancer kills millions of people every year. The reason for such a large number of deaths is that when cancer is detected at an advanced stage, its treatment becomes difficult. But if cancer is detected early and treatment is started on time, then it can be easily cured. But now advanced-stage cancer patients are also being successfully treated through immunotherapy, a new technology used to treat cancer. Know what is immunotherapy and how cancer patients are treated with this therapy.

Definition of Immunotherapy:

  • Cancer Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that enhances the natural immunity of the body to prevent, control, and eliminate cancer.

  • Immunotherapy is a biological therapy that uses the body's natural defenses to fight cancer. 

Cancer Immunotherapy

What is Cancer Immunotherapy?

  • Cancer Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that enhances the natural immunity of the body to prevent, control, and eliminate cancer.
  • Cancer immunotherapy is also known as immuno-oncology.
  • It is also called biological therapy, biotherapy, or biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.
  • The main function of immunotherapy is to target the organs in which cancer cells are found.
  • Compared to normal cells, cancer cells have a specific protein called antigen on their outer surface. It is a protein that is produced by the immune system. 
  • They bind to the antigens of cancer cells and mark them as abnormal cells. 
  • Chemicals used in immunotherapy are often called biological response modifiers because they enable the body's normal immune system to respond to cancer risk.
  • The drugs used in immunotherapy are beneficial for all types of cancer. 
  • By using cancer immunotherapy all types of cancer can treat such as bladder cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer as well as leukemia, multiple myeloma and melanoma, etc.

Different types of immunotherapy: 

There are many types of immunotherapy. They include the following: Monoclonal antibodies and tumor-agnostic treatments, such as checkpoint inhibitors, Oncolytic virus therapy, T cell therapy, Cancer vaccines

1. Monoclonal antibodies: The monoclonal antibodies that have been known for decades are being used in many tumors such as brain cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, and lymphomas. They are one of the natural substances produced by lymphocytes against tumor-specific proteins.

2. Vaccines: Specific vaccines against viruses that induce certain types of cancer such as the papillomavirus (which causes cancer of the genitals, year, and throat), hepatitis B (inducer of hepatocarcinoma), or certain prostate cancers. They act like any other vaccine by injecting viral substances that induce the specific immune response to that type of cancer.

3. Immune control inhibitors: They are responsible for the expectations achieved in recent years thanks to the knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that tumors use to inhibit the immune response.

4. Cellular therapy: They use the patient's own immune cells that, after their extraction, are prepared in the laboratory and are returned specifically activated against the tumor they are suffering from. A few years ago cytotoxic T lymphocytes were used, but in recent years better-activated lymphocytes have been prepared with more specific receptors and with greater activity in all types of tumors (CAR-T cells and soon CAR-NK).

Advantages of Immunotherapy:

  • Immunotherapy may be effective when other treatments are not. 
  • Some cancers, such as skin cancer, don't cure through chemotherapy, but they can cure by immunotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy can help other cancer treatments work better.
  • It causes fewer side effects than other treatments. 
  • Immunotherapy only targets your immune system and not all cells in your body.
  • Your cancer may be less likely to return. When you get immunotherapy, your immune system learns to go to cancer cells if they come back. This is called immune memory, and it can help you stay cancer-free for a long time.

Disadvantages of Cancer Immunotherapy:

  • Two types of cells are responsible for side effects after immunotherapy. 
  • First—macrophages and second neutriphiles. They attack healthy tissue but do not kill cancer cells. 
  • Immunotherapy drugs cause the production of proteins that damage the immune system that protects against diseases.
  • Unlike other cancer treatments, immunotherapy does not cause hair loss or the appearance of sores. However, in some cases, it can cause autoimmune disease syndrome.
  • It can harm organs and systems such as your heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and intestines.
  • Immunotherapy takes longer than other treatments.

FAQs about cancer Immunotherapy:

1. What is the difference between Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy?

Answer: Chemotherapy consists of chemicals that are released into the body through saline or pills and they start killing the cancerous cells present in the body. Immunotherapy stimulates your body's immune cells and kills cancer cells. Immunotherapy is cancer-specific, it only kills cancer cells. No other immunity booster medicines can do this job.

2. In which cancer is immunotherapy beneficial?

Answer: Nowadays cancer immunotherapy is being used in all types of cancer. Immunotherapy is effective in treating lung, kidney, bladder, mouth, and some types of skin and blood cancers. Immunotherapy is also being used in advanced cancer. But before doctors have to do some molecular tests, called MSI testing, based on the reports, doctors can estimate how much immunotherapy will be beneficial for patients.

3. Is Immunotherapy Better Than Chemotherapy?

Answer: Depending on the type, stage, or characteristics of your cancer and various factors and reports, it is decided to treat cancer such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, or targeted therapy. Immunotherapy can be used for early cancer treatment as well as for advanced cancer treatment.

4. Can immunotherapy completely cure the fourth stage of cancer?

Answer: Unfortunately, it is still impossible to cure advanced cancer or 4th stage cancer but the benefits of immunotherapy can be long-lasting. But immunotherapy is of great benefit in early cancer or stage 2 cancer. But it should be used properly and should be selected properly.

5. Are There Any Side Effects of Immunotherapy?

Answer: Although immunotherapy is relatively specific because it tends to recognize abnormal tumor cells and not heal them, this treatment is not harmless. Sometimes there is a local reaction in the injection area, a febrile illness similar to a flu-like process, Some patients may experience immunological side effects such as Pneumonitis, Colitis, or Endocrine Changes. Immunotherapy has fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

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