Immunotherapies - Lung Cancer Is No More A challenge!

Immunotherapies for lung cancer has been exciting news in recent years. The advanced lung cancer treatments include the checkpoint inhibitors that have become an important tool today and include nivolumab as a prescription drug that was approved in the year 2015 to treat squamous cell lung cancer. Further immunotherapy was then approved for treating non-small-cell-lung cancer as well.

  • The compound pembrolizumab was a fit for those who had tumors, and expressed a protein and received chemotherapy.
  • Pembrolizumab and atezolizumab were approved for advanced lung cancer treatment where chemotherapy failed to produce an output.
  • The role of the immune system in treating and preventing cancerous cells has been studied for decades. 
  • These days immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer is a hot topic, and also referred to as biologic therapy. 
  • This therapy boosts the body's natural defense mechanism to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy exists beyond checkpoint inhibitors that include chimeric antigen receptor - the car T cell therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and cancer vaccines.  

Lung Cancer And Its Types

Two major types of lung cancer exist, which include small cell lung cancer that affects 10 to 15% of all the lung cancer cases, and nonsmall cell lung cancer affecting the majority of the population suffering from lung cancer. Approximately 85 to 90% of the nonsmall cell lung cancer includes adenocarcinoma, which is caused by the mucous secretion of the lungs cells.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma cost from the cancer of the inner lining of the lungs. 
  • Large cell carcinoma arises from the epithelial cells of the outer region of the lungs. 

Today lung cancer affects approximately 2 million people yearly and is a leading cause of death. In the case of cancer, both men and women become symptomatic and are diagnosed well before cancer proceed to an advanced stage. 

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Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are only minimally effective. New treatments that emphasize diagnosing lung cancer have been introduced and one of them includes immunotherapy. 

The Promise Of Immunotherapy In Cancer Treatment

When it comes to choosing the right immunotherapy for treating lung cancer or any other form of cancer, here are 9 important things to keep in mind when you speak with your doctor. Consider them as the initial checkpoints and go step by step. 

Learn The Meaning Of An Immune Checkpoint

Immune checkpoints are designations designed to suppress the immune system of a person so that healthy organs are protected. Cancer cells while affecting a typical organ of the body, take over the immune checkpoint thereby causing the immune system to lose target. 

Here, the cancer cells get an opportunity to grow. PD1 is one of the many checkpoints used by cancer cells. Blocking the PD-1 checkpoints helps the immune system of a person to recognize the cancer cells and counter them effectively.

Working Of Immunotherapy

The working of immunotherapy includes the activities of nivolumab and pembrolizumab in blocking the PD-1 immune checkpoint. The compound atezolizumab helps in blocking the PD L1 immune checkpoint that interacts with the PD-1 checkpoint, while the cancer cells target them. All of these drugs are infused in a patient body only after a doctor's advice.

Immunotherapy Is Not For Everyone

Both the drugs namely atezolizumab and nivolumab are approved for all sorts of cancer and all sorts of patients suffering from an advanced level of non-small cell lung cancer. 

When a person suffering from a nonsmall cell lung cancer receive chemotherapy, regardless of cancer cells attacking the PDL1 checkpoint, the nivolumab and atezolizumab are approved for infusion. 

Benefits Of Pembrolizumab

Patients suffering from attacks of cancer cells towards the PDL1 immune checkpoint have a greater chance of getting pembrolizumab to prescribe. However, only a limited number of patients are able to respond to the drug. 

A patient suffering from high levels of non-small cancer lung cells with extreme levels of PD L1 expression is usually suggested a tumor biopsy. If the biopsy report does not show any form of immune attack towards the PDL1 checkpoint, it does not always mean that immunotherapies will not be able to work. 

Pembrolizumab is specifically given to patients suffering from an advanced level of PD L1 expression in over 50% of the cells. 

The Targeted Therapy

Patients suffering from lung cancer and advanced levels of lung tumors with ALK mutations are given targeted therapy rather than immunotherapy for treatment. This is because the targeted therapy has shown better results in shrinking the tumor than the immunotherapy. 

Side Effects Of Immunotherapy

When comparing chemotherapy and immunotherapy in terms of treating lung cancer, the side effects of immunotherapy are less than can you can imagine. However, it can still be serious. The side effects include skin reactions to an allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. 

  • This is because of the increased protection towards the guard cells of the lungs and endocrine hormones system, thereby reducing the immense formation of cancer cells for a longer period of time. 
  • A combined approach towards immunotherapy in treating lung cancer may help in protecting the other immune checkpoint and combat the side effects of radiation therapy and chemical API combined with surgery. 
  • It can help in curing people suffering from an early stage of the disease and also recover them better than chemotherapies. 
  • While fighting for a notorious disease called lung cancer, the importance of immunotherapy is gaining importance over time, especially in treating non-small-cell lung cancer along with the combination of chemotherapy and other targeted drugs. 
  • Recently a drug called durvalumab is approved for patients for stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer, which is considered inoperable but is less than the worst condition following chemotherapy and radiation. 

The goal for these patients is to keep cancer from progressing as long as possible.  

As promising as immunotherapy has proven this far, a minority of patients respond to the checkpoint inhibitor drugs and their responses are long-lasting. Cancer often progresses again in others. 

The strategy to identify biomarkers of the number of cancer-related mutations in the tumor can predict the likelihood of immunotherapy to be effective. Not yet, are the biomarkers totally predictive of which patients will respond to immune therapy and how well the treatment will work.

Tags: cancer immunotherapy challenges, immunotherapy limitations, how effective is immunotherapy for cancer