To Anastasia and Sebastian–June, June 27, 2017

11 thoughts on “To Anastasia and Sebastian–June, June 27, 2017

  1. What Types Of Cancer Can Be Treated With Immunotherapy?

    The main drawback is that it doesn’t work for every patient or every type of cancer. And, determining who will benefit isn’t an exact science.

    Cancers that doctors commonly treat with immunotherapy include:

    Lung cancer
    Some skin cancers (particularly melanoma)
    Kidney cancer
    Bladder cancer
    Head and neck cancers

    These are some of the most common cancers, which is why researchers have tested immunotherapy on them. Dr. Pennell predicts that eventually, researchers will test it for treating all types of cancer.
    How Immunotherapy Works

    The theory behind immunotherapy is that your immune system already knows how to fight cancer. Just as your body is able to identify, label, and mount an immune response against bacteria and viruses that invade it, cancer cells may also be tagged as abnormal and eliminated by the immune system.

    The concept of immunotherapy has been around for a long time. A century ago, a physician known as William Coley noted that some patients, when infected with a bacterium, appeared to fight off their cancers. Another physician named Steven Rosenberg is credited with asking questions about an immune system-based approach to cancer.1

    On rare occasions, cancer may resolve itself without any treatment. This spontaneous remission or regression of cancer has been documented, although it is very rare. Dr. Rosenberg’s theory was that his patient’s immune system had attacked and cleared the cancer.

    While there are many different types of immune cells and molecular pathways that result in the removal of cancer cells, the “big guns” in fighting cancer are T-cells (T lymphocytes) and natural killer cells.

    The immune system needs to perform multiple tasks to target cancer cells. In simple terms, these include:

    Surveillance: The immune system first needs to find and identify cancer cells. (An analogy would be a forestry worker walking through the forest looking for diseased trees.)
    Tagging: Once discovered, our immune system needs to mark or label cancer cells for destruction. (Akin to the forestry worker tagging problematic trees with spray paint.)
    Signaling: Once cancer cells are marked, immune cells need to sound an alarm, attracting cancer-fighting cells to the region. (Think of that forestry worker now calling in their crew.)
    Fighting: Once the above occurs, T cells and natural killer cells attack and remove cancer cells from the body (much like the workers cutting down and hauling away the diseased trees).

    Obviously, immune cells are not enough to take care of cancer all by themselves. If they were, cancer wouldn’t be lethal.

    Many cancers are able to evade or disguise themselves so your body doesn’t recognize them as a threat. Cancer cells may hide by:2

    Decreasing the expression of antigens on the surface of the cells
    Producing molecules which depress the immune response
    Causing nearby non-cancer cells to secrete substances that reduce the effectiveness of the immune system. This approach is referred to as “altering the microenvironment,” the area surrounding the cancer cells.

    Immunotherapy medications use a variety of functions to help the immune system find and target cancer cells once and for all. They include:3

    Helping the immune system recognize cancer
    Activating and amplifying immune cells
    Interfering with a cancer cell’s ability to hide (de-masking)
    Interfering with the microenvironment of cancer cells by altering cancer cell signals
    Using the principles of the immune system as a template for designing cancer drugs

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