published : 2023-11-04
Why Immunotherapy is Emerging as the 'Fourth Pillar' of Cancer Treatments
Personalized therapy uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer: 'Minimal side effects'
For decades, the go-to treatments for cancer have been chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery — but a fourth option is showing promising results.
Immunotherapy — which some experts are calling the 'fourth pillar' of cancer treatments — is a relatively new approach that taps into the power of the patient’s immune system to fight the disease.
Dr. Michael Zinner, CEO and executive medical director at Miami Cancer Institute, describes the historical progression of cancer care, from surgery to radiation to chemotherapy to targeted therapy, and now to immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has been in development for 40 to 50 years and is now finally flourishing as a groundbreaking method that utilizes the body's own cells and immune system to combat cancer as a foreign substance.
Julian Adams, PhD, chief science officer of Stand Up to Cancer, explains that immunotherapy awakens the body's immune system, which then targets cancer by making it visible to the immune system for destruction.
Checkpoint inhibitors and targeting mutated or abnormal proteins on tumor surfaces are two main methods used in immunotherapy to enable the immune system to fight cancer cells more effectively.
Immunotherapy has shown great promise in clinical trials, with rectal cancer patients experiencing a 100% response rate and pediatric cancer patients finding hope in CAR T-cell therapy to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Patients like Anthony Hall, who successfully underwent immunotherapy for lung cancer, have reported minimal side effects compared to traditional chemotherapy.
While some cancers are highly responsive to immunotherapy, others may still require a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy for effective treatment.
The ongoing advancements in immunotherapy and the potential for treating a wider range of solid tumors give hope for the future of cancer care.
Melissa Rudy, health editor at Fox News Digital, emphasizes the continuous evolution of immunotherapy and the role that artificial intelligence may play in its development.
Immunotherapy is shifting the landscape of cancer care and has the potential to bring about even greater advancements in the field.