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Immunotherapy, A Promising Future in Cancer Treatments!
Immunotherapy, A Promising Future in Cancer Treatments!

Immunotherapy refers to Biologic treatments of cancer that allows your immune system to defend the body and attack the cancer cells. These drugs make your immune system work harder or makes it easier for it to locate and destroy the cancer cells. Hence, it has Less side effects than other treatments. It also potentiates the effects of concomitant treatments and has more durable effect in eliminating the cancer. On the other hand, some of these drugs can have adverse effects on your organs, may cause a bad reaction or your cancer may adapt to it.

Immunotherapy had a breakthrough advancement this year that lead to Nobel Prize win. The discovery of check point inhibitors was crucial to discovering mechanisms that inhibit our own cells from attacking the tumor cells. Consequently, new immunotherapy treatments were developed to reverse that mechanism and allow our immune cells to attack the cancer cells.

Currently, 10 usually lethal cancer types are being successfully treated with immunotherapy including advanced melanoma, lung cancer and lymphoma. More than 20 cancer cell types have FDA approved immunotherapy treatments currently available in USA. The success though is still limited to a subset of patients for each cell type. The treatments could be given as an adjunct to traditional treatments, as main treatment or as sole treatment after failures of traditional therapies. The list of drugs approved by FDA  keeps on growing. The oncologist should be able to direct the patients who benefit from these new drugs.

More research and treatments are being tested to deliver stronger more lasting therapies. Hundreds of clinical trials are underway for new cancer treatments. Specialists in the field expect that, by combining patients history, pathology records, patient’s immuno-profile and tumor genomics, successful treatment of  all cancers should be attainable. Such therapies are expected to be widely available in the next 3-5 years.

If you have any questions regarding your cancer treatment, please feel free to contact Our expert adult and pediatric Oncologists Dr. Hepgur and Dr. Khatib will be happy to help!

Soon, we hopefully will be able to outgrow cancer! 😀

Wael Tamim, MD, FACS
Cardiothoracic Surgeon