What is immunotherapy? What are the benefits of immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a promising treatment option for advanced lung cancer, alone or in combination with traditional treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery. Several FDA-approved immunotherapy offer treatment options for children and adults with Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Cancer is the abnormal proliferation and growth of cells in a tissue or organ. If cancer spreads to organs far from the organ or tissue where it is located, it is called metastasis. Metastasis in cancer indicates that the stage of cancer has increased. Cancer cells are the result of gene mutations caused by many factors. Cancer disease, which has become a big problem for humanity, will continue to threaten humanity in the future. Therefore, new and effective methods should be found in cancer treatment.

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that allows the immune system to fight cancer cells. The immune system allows the body to fight infectious diseases and other diseases. White blood cells are made up of tissues and organs of the lymphatic system. Immunotherapy is a biological therapy. The substances used in biological therapy are obtained from living organisms. The first beginning of immunotherapy goes back to 1866. Scientists, initially starting from observation, have come a long way since then. Immunotherapy has been used widely for about 4-5 years. Immunotherapy methods are constantly being developed for new types of cancer. Currently, nearly twenty cancer types can be treated with immunotherapy. There is another type of immunotherapy for allergy sufferers.

What is immunotherapy? What are the benefits of immunotherapy?

How does immunotherapy affect cancer?

The immune system recognizes the abnormal cells and immediately goes on the defensive to destroy them. Cancer cells are also abnormal cells, but they can hide from the immune system. There are proteins on the surface of cancer cells that cover immune cells. Immunotherapy enables the immune system to recognize and defend cancer cells. Some immunotherapy drugs deliver radiotherapy and chemotherapy directly to cancer. Immunotherapy stops cancer from growing. They prevent the tumor from recurring.

What are the types of immunotherapy?

  • Drugs that inhibit the braking mechanism of the immune system: The immune system has a braking mechanism to prevent an excessive immune response. Drugs in this group make the immune system respond stronger by inactivating the braking mechanism. They enable T cells to fight cancer. For this, T cells are taken from cancerous tissue; The strongest ones are selected, reproduced in the laboratory, and given back to the patient. This is called T cell transfer.
  • Monoclonal antibodies: These are proteins found on the immune system that can bind to specific targets. These antibodies mark cancer cells and make them easier to find by the immune system. This is why it is known as targeted therapy. Monoclonal antibodies recognize specific parts of cancer cells, not healthy cells. By blocking the growth zones on the surface of cancer cells, they prevent cancer from growing. Some monoclonal antibodies are coated with radiation and given to the body. Thus, targeted radiotherapy can be done. Some monoclonal antibodies are loaded with cancer drugs so that they directly reach the cancer tissue.
  • Vaccines that treat cancer: We all know more or less about vaccines developed against bacteria and viruses that protect us from infections. Cancer vaccines are completely different. They do not carry attenuated bacteria or viruses. These are also different from cancer-preventing vaccines. Examples of vaccines that protect against cancer are the HPV vaccine and the hepatitis B vaccine. Cancer vaccines contain antigens found on the tumor surface. When administered to the body, they enable the immune system to recognize cancer and become active. Cancer vaccines can be produced individually from your own tumor cells. Although a vaccine currently being administered for prostate cancer does not eliminate cancer completely, it extends the life of patients.
  • Oncolytic viruses: Viruses that do not touch normal cells when introduced into the body but break down cancer cells.
  • Immunomodulators: They generally act by activating the immune system more.
  • Cytokines: Cytokines are chemicals produced by some immune system cells. They play an important role in the production and activity of immune system cells and blood cells. They are applied under the skin, intramuscularly, or intravenously. Immunotherapy with cytokines has many side effects. Interleukins, interferons, and GM-CSF are the most commonly used cytokines. Cytokines enable immune system cells to proliferate and act by disrupting the formation of blood vessels that feed cancer cells.

What are the benefits of immunotherapy?

  • immunotherapies have fewer side effects than chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It can even be given to patients who cannot receive chemotherapy.
  • It helps to extend the life of many cancer patients.
  • Immunotherapy creates cancer memory on the immune system. Thus, it can prevent the recurrence of cancer.
  • It is effective on some types of cancer that are resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy can be used either alone or in combination with other treatments.
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy also damage healthy cells. Immunotherapy does not cause much damage to healthy cells.
  • It is better tolerated than chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Fewer side effects are seen than chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Cancer growth slows or stops.
  • It may prevent cancer from metastasizing.

Will every patient benefit from immunotherapy?

Oncologists make the decision of which patient to receive immunotherapy. Observations made are that immunotherapy extends the life of patients. Research on the subject continues.

For which cancer types are immunotherapy used?

Immunotherapy drugs are used in many types of cancer. It is not yet used as widely as surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Drug development studies continue.

Are there any side effects

Major side effects:

  • Shake
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sinus congestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Risk of infection
  • Organ inflammation
  • pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness of the skin
  • Itching
  • Debris
  • Fire

What are the side effects of cancer vaccines?

  • Fire
  • Shake
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • A severe allergic reaction

How is immunotherapy done?

Some of the immunotherapies’ drugs are administered intravenously and the application is done in the hospital. Some immunotherapy drugs are in the form of tablets or capsules. There are also immunotherapy drugs applied to the skin in the form of a cream. The last method of administration is to give the drug into the urinary bladder.

Where is immunotherapy done?

There are centers that do immunotherapy in our country. Usually, they are part of a cancer treatment unit. Immunotherapy can be applied daily.

How long does immunotherapy take?

How long the immunotherapy will take:

  • The type of cancer and how advanced it is,
  • The type of immunotherapy received,
  • The patient’s response to treatment varies according to his condition.

Treatment can be every day, every week, or every month. Sometimes immunotherapy is done in cycles. The patient is given treatment, rested for a while, then given again.

How is it understood that immunotherapy is working?

During doctor visits, blood tests and radiological examinations are performed on patients who receive immunotherapy and the condition of the tumor is evaluated.

What is the Cuban cancer vaccine? Who can it be applied to?

A vaccine developed in Cuba has been tried in lung, skin, and breast cancers. According to the statement made by the Turkish Medical Oncology Association, it has been stated that the vaccine prolongs the life span in patients with cancer, but does not completely eliminate the tumor. Studies on this subject continue. The effect of the vaccine in the treatment of brain, ovarian, and colon cancer is also being studied. Vaccination has not yet been accepted as standard therapy. This vaccine can be purchased from the pharmacy with a prescription if the oncologist approves it. Official institutions do not pay the prescription fee yet.

If you or your relatives have cancer; For more detailed information about immunotherapy and to find out if you are suitable for this treatment, apply to a center that conducts immunotherapy. We wish you healthy days.

The page content is for informational purposes only. Items containing information about therapeutic health services are not included in the content of the page. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.

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