Breakthrough in Cancer Treatment
Fact: An estimated one in three people will develop cancer and will need treatment at some point in life.
Not the brightest of news…
Yet scientists and researchers may have edged one step closer to finding the elusive cure to cancer through a new form of ‘immunotherapy’. Their research shows that this technique can treat, and sometimes cure, a range of cancers including lung, skin, womb, bowel and ovarian types.
What is immunotherapy you might ask? Let’s start off by giving an overview of what the typical forms of cancer treatment are. To date, we are mostly familiar with methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, none of which may really be considered as a ‘cure’.
Immunotherapy on the other hand involves giving the patient a special treatment drug which prevents the body’s immune system cells from being ‘turned off’ by the cancer cells. In normal situations, this would cause the cancer to be shielded, and therefore not attacked by the body’s immune system. But with these special class of treatment drugs, the immune system cells target the cancer cells, causing them to shrink.
The studies using this type of therapy has so far shown that in most cases – specifically more than half – the tumours receded or stabilised for nearly 12 months, and in more than one in 10 cases, the combination of drugs completely eradicates the tumour.
When will it be available? The new immunotherapies are approved for use in the USA for melanoma and lung cancer, but they are showing great potential in many other cancer types as well. We may well see them very soon form the backbone of all cancer therapy, changing the lives of millions.