The immune system plays an imperative role against various diseases, contaminations and faulty cells. Since cancer cells are the body’s mutated cells, very often, they are not recognized by the immune system as intruders. Moreover, cancer cells can invade multifarious ways and they can overshadow an immune attack. To treat cancer patients, doctors often use certain parts of a person’s immune system to combat cancer. Many best cancer treatment hospitals in India are offering immunotherapy treatment as the best cancer treatment in India.
Identify the Relationship between Cancer and the Immune System
The prime feature of cancer cells is they grow out of control. Since cancer cells produce and behave in irregular ways, hence they stand out to the immune system that can recognize and extirpate cancer cells through a process called immunosurveillance.
But this process is not successful at all times. Cancer cells can invade numerous ways and can escape the immune system. They used to continue to grow and metastasize or spread to other organs. Therefore, immunotherapies are designed to uplift the cancer-fighting capabilities of immune cells and convert the scales in the favour of the immune system.
How does Immunotherapy Work against Cancer?
Immunotherapy works against cancer in two ways.
- Improves the body’s own immune system so that it can work harder to identify and attack cancer cells.
- Extirpating the block in the immune system. Now, your immune system is free to attack the cancer cells.
Types of Immunotherapy Treatments are used in Cancer
- Targeted antibodies: Immune system produces these proteins that can be customized to target specific markers (known as antigens) on cancer cells. These proteins can destroy the cancerous activity of the cells, especially uncontrolled growth. Some targeted antibody-based immunotherapies, known as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) possess anti-cancer drugs that can target tumours. Others, called bi-specific T cell-engaging antibodies (BiTEs), bind both cancer cells and T cells and thus, inspire the immune system to respond faster and effectively.
- Adoptive cell therapy: This therapy first takes the immune cells of the patients and then modifies and reinserts them into the patient. Now, they can hunt and eliminate cancer cells. In CAR T cell therapy, cancer-fighting T cells are altered and armed with specialized cancer-targeting receptors known as CARs (chimeric antigen receptors) that empower superior anti-cancer activity. Natural killer cells (NKs) and tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) can also be boosted and reinserted in patients.
- Oncolytic virus therapy: This therapy uses viruses and modified ones to infect tumour cells and instigate them to self-destruct. This can get the attention of immune cells to extirpate the prime tumour and potentially secondary tumours throughout the body.
- Cancer vaccines: These vaccines prompt an immune response against tumour-specific or tumour-associated antigens. They inspire the immune system to attack cancer cells. Cancer vaccines are made up of various components, including cells, proteins, DNA, viruses, bacteria, and small molecules. Preventive cancer vaccines immunize people against cancer-causing viruses and bacteria, such as HPV or hepatitis B.
- Immunomodulators: by checking the activity of other elements of the immune system, they are used to release new or improve existing immune responses against cancer. Antagonists work by blocking pathways that overpower immune cells. Others, known as agonists, work by exciting pathways that activate immune cells.
- Checkpoint inhibitors: They are used to target the molecules on either immune or cancer cells that tell them when to start or pause attacking a cancer cell.
- Cytokines: These are messenger molecules that control maturation, progress, and receptiveness. Interferons (IFN) are a type of cytokine that disturbs the division of cancer cells and minimizes tumour growth. Interleukins (IL) are cytokines that instigate the immune system to grow and divide rapidly.
Which Cancers are Treated with Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy treatment is highly approved to treat different types of cancer, including lung cancer, skin cancer (melanoma), urinary bladder cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer (HCC), head and neck cancer, etc.
What are the Side Effects of Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy has some side effects. Most side effects happen when the immune system that has been gassed up to act against cancer may also act against wholesome cells and tissues in your body.
- Fatigue is the prime side effect, with an estimated overall frequency of 16 to 24 per cent for the anti-programmed cell death receptor 1 (PD-1) and anti-programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) agents.
- Skin and mucosal toxicity,
- Diarrhoea and colitis
- Hepatotoxicity and endocrinopathies.
You may not experience these side effects immediately just after immunotherapy treatment. Most of them usually come later.
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