Immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system in order to destroy cancerous cells has proved so efficient in a trial carried out in the UK, that 50 percent of the patients suffering from severe melanoma managed to have their tumors either brought under control or visibly shrunk.
These results could help immunotherapy become the number one treatment for patients suffering from various types of cancer, thus replacing the very invasive chemotherapy, which has been considered the standard treatment for cancer for a long time now.
Due to these results, in five years time, cancer treatment stands a good chance of being completely revolutionized.
We might be witnessing not only a paradigm shift in terms of cancer treatment but we might also be contemplating the possibility to give terminally ill patients a chance to survive and cure themselves of the tumors, according to Professor Roy Herbst, the head of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Centre.
This theory is supported by the chief of medical oncology at Cancer Research in UK, Professor Peter Johnson.
The trial involved 945 people suffering from advanced melanoma. They were treated with nivolumab and ipilimumab.
The result was that 58 percent of the patients had their tumors shrunk in less than a year. In some of the cases, the tumors remained stable and under control. Therefore, the combination of the drugs proved very successful, given the fact that a lower number of patients (19 percent) who were treated only with ipilimumab had the same spectacular results.
“By giving these drugs together you are effectively taking two brakes off the immune system rather than one so the immune system is able to recognize tumors it wasn’t previously recognizing and react to that and destroy them,” said Dr. James Larkin, who is a lead investigator working with the Royal Marsden Hospital in UK.
Cancers spread because they are able to go unnoticed by our body’s immune system. It is the combination of drugs the one that allows patients to have their immune system stop the cancer’s concealment and thus detect it and destroy the tumor partially or completely.
Nevertheless, the combined treatment might also come with side effects, so it is extremely important for doctors to see which of the patients suffering from cancer can most benefit from the revolutionary cure.
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