New Immunotherapy Drugs Helping Some, But Not Others

Posted by North Texas Cancer Center at Wise on March 29th, 2017

Patients with certain forms of cancer may soon find their doctors recommending the use of immunotherapy drugs as part of their overall treatment program. Research is showing that the drugs work tremendously well on their own in place of grueling chemotherapy for some, but not all patients. The outcomes for some patients have been so positive, in fact, that countries like Britain may soon recommend this as a standard of care in some cases related to lung cancer in particular.

Immunotherapy drugs are designed to help the body’s own immune system fight off the growth and spread of cancer. Unlike chemotherapy drugs that do not discriminate between cancerous and healthy cells, the body’s immune system does. This can present tremendous benefits for patients in that the side effects so closely associated with chemotherapy may be avoided entirely or at least delayed. Immunotherapy drugs do have some potential side effects, as well, but are generally considered much easier to tolerate than chemo.

One of the most recent studies into the benefits of an immunotherapy drug meant to help treat lung cancer showed very strong results. Researches did find that the drug used in the trial tended to work better than chemo for those with previously untreated lung cancer. Even then, patients had to have high levels of a protein marker known as PD-L1 to see very strong results. Since only about a third of all non-small cell lung cancer patients have tumors that display this protein, some clinicians are now proposing that biomarker screening be used prior to immunotherapy’s use as a chemotherapy replacement.

Setbacks in viability for all patients aside, the recent trial does shed much light on the potential immunotherapy may one day hold in the treatment of cancer.  The hope is that someday soon immunotherapy drugs may be used to treat a host of cancers without the harsh side effects connected with chemotherapy. Whether this will come to fruition remains a story for time to tell. Currently available drugs, however, are showing a great deal of promise for some patients.

It is estimated that 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in the coming year. About 500,000 will die from the disease. The best treatment recommendations will hinge on a patient’s particular case, the type of cancer and its stage, among other factors. When available, immunotherapy may offer a viable alternative to more harsh treatment options. Patients, however, should carefully review the pros and cons of all available treatments with their healthcare providers before making a final decision on which avenue to pursue.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise, a division of Choice Cancer Care, is now operating as the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and is one of the most renowned cancer treatment centers in Texas.

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise

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North Texas Cancer Center at Wise
Joined: February 24th, 2016
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