Immunotherapy as an Alternative to Traditional Cancer Treatments

If you are like many individuals who are diagnosed with cancer, but you want to avoid going through chemotherapy, radiation or surgery to remove or treat your cancer.

These treatments often destroy both good and bad cells and have uncomfortable and damaging side effects.

The good news is that today, physicians and researchers are finding new ways to fight cancer. 

These are things you should know about immunotherapy and how it is being used to treat cancer.

Immunotherapy Defined

The focus of immunotherapy treatment is to boost your body’s immune system to fight cancer.

You see, your body already has a way to fight disease through your immune system.

This system targets anything foreign in your body, such as tumours and bacteria, and focuses on eradicating them.

Unfortunately, many cancers are not recognised as foreign entities, making it difficult for your body to remove them.

Immunotherapy reveals these damaged cells to your system, so your body can fight them off.

Immunotherapy Usage

These therapy treatments can be used in addition to or in place of traditional therapies.

Because your immune system does not recognize cancer cells, it often helps them grow rather than destroying them. Immunotherapy reverses this trend, so your T-cells fight cancer rather than helping it.

Therefore, if the cancer is in the early stages, your doctor may suggest you forego traditional treatments and focus on immunotherapy.

However, aggressive or late-stage cancers may require additional treatments.

The key is customization based on your needs and disease progression.

How Immunotherapy Works? 

Immunotherapy has been proven to produce significant rates of long-term cancer remission, especially in advanced cancers and those that have proven resistant to traditional treatments.

During cellular immunotherapy, your doctor removes your healthy T-cells and reimplant them back into your body.

Such numerous cells are reintroduced that your immune system is boosted enough to recognize cancer-damaged cells.

At times, your cells may be modified, so they attack the cancer cells through lab reengineering.

This process produces chimeric antigen receptors that can recognize and fight cancer cells.

Your doctor may also use immune checkpoint inhibitors that teach your cells how to target cancer growth pathways.

You see, cancer can fool your body’s immune cell checkpoints, making them look like normal cells.

When you take checkpoint inhibitor drugs, the false signals are blocked, and your body’s immune system recognizes the foreign cells.

Your doctor may also use monoclonal antibodies, which are proteins that attach to cancer cells and reveal them to your body.

Vaccines and immune system modulators may also help boost your immunity.

Side Effects of Immunotherapy

Unlike traditional cancer treatments, immunotherapy has few side effects. If it is used alone, you may feel a bit of nausea or flu-like symptoms.

You may also have an injection-site reaction.

If your immune system is overstimulated, your body may begin to attack your organs.

Cost and Qualification

Cancer treatments are expensive, and insurance companies’ unwillingness to cover clinical trials or new treatments has significantly negatively impacted patients’ lives.

However, as immunotherapy gains credibility and becomes a more mainstream treatment, it is becoming more reasonably priced.

In addition, many cancer centers and hospitals are developing systems that make approval and treatment more efficient and timelier.

Timelines

Chemotherapy typically begins working on your tumours immediately, so your doctor will see almost immediate reductions in your cancer.

However, because chemotherapy uses drugs to attack the cancer cells, they stop working entirely once the drugs leave your system.

This means that if the cancer is not eradicated, it can come back and maybe more aggressive.

Immunotherapy takes longer to start shrinking your cancer because it works with the body’s natural systems rather than explicitly introducing foreign drugs that target cancer.

However, these therapies often work long after they have been stopped.

The medical advances in cancer treatments are exciting. Although it is not a cure-all, immunotherapy has significant potential to fight many diseases.