Oncowin Cancer Center

Understanding the Basics of Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment

Cancer is a word that brings fear and uncertainty to many. The diagnosis can be overwhelming, and the journey through treatment is often filled with challenges and hopes. The medical community continually seeks innovative therapies to provide patients with better outcomes and renewed hope. 

One such promising approach is immunotherapy. This treatment empowers the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy for cancer treatment offers new possibilities and hopes for every patient where traditional treatments can’t help them. 

In this blog, we will explore the basics of immunotherapy, the types of cancers it can treat, how it works, and what to expect during the immunotherapy cancer treatment process

Understanding these aspects can help patients and their families make better decisions about their cancer care.

“Let’s fight cancer together through understanding immunotherapy treatment.”

What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a way to treat cancer using your body’s immune system to find and kill cancer cells. Normally, your immune system spots and destroys harmful things like cancer cells. Immunotherapy helps your immune system work better so it can find and destroy more cancer cells.

This treatment has proven highly effective for cancer patients, potentially extending their lives. Doctors and scientists are working on new immunotherapy drugs to treat even more types of cancer.

What Types of Cancer Can Be Treated Effectively with Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy offers new hope for treating various cancers that have been challenging to control with traditional therapies. Some of the cancers that can be treated with immunotherapy include: 

  • Bladder cancer                                                          Esophageal cancer
  • Head and neck cancer                                             Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer                                                             Kidney cancer
  • Cervical cancer                                                          Leukemia
  • Childhood cancer                                                      Liver cancer
  • Colorectal cancer                                                      Lymphoma
  •  Melanoma


What Types of Cancer Can Be Treated Effectively with Immunotherapy?

There are many types of immunotherapy for cancer treatment, each with its unique approach to using the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. 

Here’s an overview of types of cancer immunotherapy:

  • Monoclonal antibodies (MABs)

Antibodies naturally found in our blood help fight infection. MAB therapies mimic these antibodies but are created in a lab. “Monoclonal” means they’re all copies of one type of antibody.

MABs recognize and attach to specific proteins on cancer cells’ surfaces. There are many types of MABs used to treat cancer, each working differently, sometimes in multiple ways.

MABs function as immunotherapy in various ways. They might:

– Activate the immune system

– Assist the immune system in attacking cancer

  • Checkpoint inhibitors

Checkpoint inhibitors are MABs that help the immune system find and attack cancer cells. Sometimes, cancer cells can stop immune cells from attacking by using a “stop” signal. Checkpoint inhibitors block this signal and allow the immune system to fight the cancer.

  • Vaccines for cancer treatment

Researchers are investigating whether vaccines can train the immune system to identify and attack cancer cells. These vaccines are designed similarly to those for diseases, targeting specific proteins found in cancer cells. This helps the immune system recognize and target those cancer cells.

  • Cytokines

Cytokines are proteins in the body that help strengthen the immune system. Interferon and interleukin are cytokines found naturally in the body. Scientists have developed synthetic versions of these proteins to treat certain types of cancer.

  • CAR T-cell therapy

This treatment modifies genes in a person’s white blood cells (T cells) to enable them to identify and destroy cancer cells. Modifying T cells in this manner is known as genetically engineering them.

CAR T-cell therapy is an option for some children with leukemia and some adults with lymphoma. Others with different types of cancer might receive it through clinical trials.

  • Immunomodulators (non-specific immunotherapy)

Immunomodulators are molecules that help activate the immune system broadly, without targeting cancer cells specifically. That’s why it’s called non-specific immunotherapy.

Some immunomodulators are used as standalone treatments for cancer, while others are used alongside primary treatments to enhance the immune system’s effectiveness.

  • Oncolytic Viruses 

These are viruses that have been modified to selectively infect and kill cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. Oncolytic viruses can replicate inside cancer cells, leading to their destruction and triggering an immune response against the tumor.

Each type of immunotherapy for cancer treatment has its advantages and specific applications in treating different types of cancer.

How Does Immunotherapy Work?

Your immune system works day and night to protect your body from threats like viruses, allergens, and even cells that could turn into cancer. It has special cells that patrol your body, searching for any signs of trouble. When they detect a damaged or cancerous cell, they eliminate it to prevent tumors from growing and spreading.

However, cancer cells are tricky and can sometimes evade detection by the immune system. Immunotherapy helps by enhancing your body’s natural defenses in two main ways:

1. Boosting Immune Response: Immunotherapy trains your immune system to become more effective at recognizing and attacking cancer cells. It teaches your immune cells to be better at identifying the abnormal cells that need to be destroyed.

2. Producing Cancer-Fighting Cells: It stimulates your body to produce more cancer-fighting immune cells. These special cells are trained to find and eliminate cancer cells wherever they are in your body.

Immunotherapy Procedure

Just as there are various types of immunotherapy, doctors can administer them in different ways:

  1. IV Immunotherapy: Given directly into a vein as an infusion.
  2. Intravesical Immunotherapy: Used as a liquid medication for early-stage bladder cancer.
  3. Oral Immunotherapy: Administered as powder or drops, usually with food or under the tongue.
  4. Subcutaneous immunotherapy: it’s injected under the skin.
  5. Topical Immunotherapy: It’s applied to the skin as a cream.

Immunotherapy is typically administered through an IV infusion. It can be given daily, weekly, monthly, or in cycles with breaks in between to allow your body to regenerate healthy cells. 

The duration of immunotherapy treatment depends on:

  • The type and stage of cancer
  • The specific immunotherapy drug
  • How well your body responds to the treatment

Benefits of Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy stands out among cancer treatments. It offers a better quality of life for several reasons.

It raises the chance of curing cancers. Traditional therapies often fail. Immunotherapy greatly boosts the odds of success. Combining it with other treatments enhances these chances further.

Immunotherapy lowers the risk. Cancer can return after treatment, but immunotherapy lowers this risk compared to other methods.

It causes fewer side effects. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy affect healthy cells along with cancerous ones. But, immunotherapy targets only the immune system. This results in fewer side effects.

A Note from Oncowin Cancer Center

Immunotherapy helps your immune system fight cancer cells more effectively. Doctors may recommend it for advanced cancers or when standard treatments aren’t effective. While immunotherapy works well for many types of cancer, it doesn’t work for all. Researchers are exploring new ways to improve its effectiveness and help people live longer. 

If you’re considering immunotherapy for cancer, you can consult with cancer specialists at the best immunotherapy center in Ahmedabad—OnCowin. We prioritize timely access to advanced treatments and ensure value for money.

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