Immunotherapy Showing Great Promise in Lung Cancer Treatment
Recent advances in immunotherapy drugs are helping some lung cancer patients lead longer, more normal lives without subjecting them to the rigors of chemotherapy. These drugs are designed to help patients effectively fight the disease without the overly harsh side effects associated with other interventions, such as chemo. Even so, researchers are finding that immunotherapy isn’t a panacea in all lung cancer cases.
Researchers have discovered that one of the latest immunotherapy drugs seems to work better when a particular protein is found in a patient’s system in high amounts. This biomarker serves as an indicator that immunotherapy is more likely to have a positive impact. Considering that finding, some countries are now recommending doctors screen for the protein called PD-L1 prior to recommending a course of action for lung cancer patients who have not yet undergone treatment.
Immunotherapy has become such a heavily researched area because of the benefits it can hold for patients. This form of treatment is designed to stimulate the body’s own immune system into more effectively fighting cancer. When it works, immunotherapy drugs enable the body to target the invading cancer cells without damaging nearby healthy tissue. In essence, immunotherapy can distinguish between healthy and diseased cells because the immune system can. Chemotherapy, however, damages cells without discrimination. Although effective in shrinking tumors and eradicating cancer in some cases, chemo tends to include a lot of collateral damage, as well.
While still far from perfect, immunotherapy is making great strides in the treatment of some diseases. For those who have PD-LI biomarkers, this form of therapy can help them avoid the harsh side effects of lung cancer treatment. In fact, the outcomes have been so positive, some are recommending this as a first-line treatment in some cases instead of chemo.
People who are diagnosed with cancer are urged to work closely with their healthcare providers to explore treatment options. When advised, immunotherapy may offer a way to avoid harsh chemo-related side effects while still treating the disease adequately. These drugs, however, are not a cure all and some side effects may still arise from their use.