WHAT IT IS
Immunotherapy is one of the most discussed forms of cancer treatment. [U.S.News]
There are "targeted" and "general" immunotherapy options.
Targeted immunotherapy blocks the growth and spread of cancer.
- Your immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to destroy unnatural bacteria, viruses, or abnormal or unhealthy cells.
- Cancer tricks your immune system to not attack it because it develops from normal cells. Your body is unable to naturally recognize and does not attack the start of a deadly mutation.
- Immunotherapy can be given through vaccines, pills, or ointment. [National Cancer Institute]
General vs. targeted options...
A form of targeted immunotherapy, administered through a needle injected into the vein.
A form of general immunotherapy, administered through capsules that you swallow.
A form of general immunotherapy, administered through a cream that you rub onto your skin.
WHY IT MATTERS
Through scientists’ rapid advancements in immunotherapy, cancer patients are provided with a new possibility of beating the disease while also opening the door for more research in cancer therapy.
THE CURE ALL
Immunotherapy trains the immune system to fight specific cancer cells. [Dartmouth]
Once the immune system learns how to fight the disease, it can more easily attack it again if it comes back.
Immunotherapy can be a safer alternative that is less abrasive on the body with fewer side effects, unlike chemotherapy and radiation. [OncoSec Medical]
A study by the Institute of Cancer Research in London discovered that the immunotherapy drug "Nivolumab" increased the longevity of life for head and neck cancer patients. [AZO Medical Network]
JUST ONE OPTION
Breaking the bank
As of 2016, immunotherapy treatments can cost a patient over $100,000 a year. [The Huffington Post]
Risky and costly
In 2016, a failed clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug cost pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb $20 billion dollars. [Bloomberg]
Read the label
While symptoms can be milder than other cancer treatments, some immunotherapy drugs can lead to chronic arthritis. [NPR]
WHERE WE ARE NOW
Immunotherapy works better with certain types of cancers than with others. [American Cancer Society]
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg–Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy found hopeful patient responses to a newly developed immunotherapy drug. [GEN]
In June 2017, patient David Dunnington was treated only with immunotherapy after being diagnosed with melanoma. He was able to make a full recovery. [Q13 Seattle]