There is a new treatment for cancer coming out of the UK that is very different from the current 3 pillars of cancer therapy: radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. The process is immunotherapy, which uses medication to bolster our immune systems and allow our body’s T cells to recognize the infected cancer cells.
“The advances and the results we’ve seen with using the immune system to treat cancer in the last five years or so are turning the practice of oncology on its head,” said Dr. Crystal Mackall, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and expert on cancer immunotherapy. “You don’t want to overstate it. As an immunotherapist, I see things from my vantage point, which is biased, but my clinical colleagues use words like ‘revolution,’ ” she said. “When I hear them say that, I think, ‘Wow, this really is a paradigm shifting for how we think about treating cancer.’ ” Immunotherapy comes in many forms — treatment vaccines, antibody therapies and drugs — and can be received through an injection, a pill or capsule, a topical ointment or cream, or a catheter.
Of the terminally ill patients who received this new treatment, about 60% have reacted positively, with some even going into complete remission. We’d like to offer our cheers to the researchers who have developed what could eventually become a noninvasive treatment of cancer!