Dr AvinashTank, is a super-specialist (MCh) Laparoscopic Gastro-intestinal Surgeon,

Immunotherapy

Amazing Facts about Immunotherapy

  • Historical Origins: The concept of immunotherapy dates back to the late 19th century when New York surgeon William Coley observed that cancer patients who experienced severe bacterial infections sometimes experienced tumor regression. He developed a mixture of bacteria known as Coley’s toxins to stimulate the immune system, which showed early signs of success in treating certain cancers.
Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1888599/ 
  • Interferon and Interleukin: In the 1980s, the discovery and production of interferon and interleukin laid the groundwork for modern immunotherapy. These signaling proteins, naturally produced by the body during viral infections, were found to have anti-cancer properties and were used in early immunotherapy trials.
Source https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169409X22000023 
  • Monoclonal Antibodies: The development of monoclonal antibodies marked a significant breakthrough in immunotherapy. In 1997, the FDA approved the first monoclonal antibody, rituximab, for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since then, numerous monoclonal antibodies have been developed to target specific cancer cells and immune checkpoints.
Source https://jbiomedsci.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12929-019-0592-z 
  • CAR T-cell Therapy: Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a groundbreaking form of immunotherapy that involves modifying a patient’s own T-cells to express a specific receptor that targets cancer cells. The modified T-cells are then infused back into the patient, where they seek out and destroy cancer cells.
Source https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/research/car-t-cells 
  • Personalized Vaccines: Researchers are exploring the development of personalized cancer vaccines as a form of immunotherapy. These vaccines are tailored to a patient’s specific tumor antigens, stimulating the immune system to target and attack the cancer cells.
Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8931585/ 

4 Reasons for Regular Cancer Screening 

  1. Early Detection: Regular screening allows for the identification of cancer at an early stage when it’s more treatable and has a higher chance of successful outcomes.
  2. Improved Survival Rates: Early detection through screening can lead to better treatment options, resulting in improved survival rates and increased chances of a cure.
  3. Risk Assessment: Cancer screening helps identify individuals at higher risk for developing cancer, allowing for targeted preventive measures and lifestyle modifications to reduce their risk.
  4. Peace of Mind: Regular screening offers peace of mind to individuals, knowing that they are taking proactive steps to monitor their health and detect cancer at its earliest stages, if present.

Complications of Untreated Cancer

  1. Disease Progression: If left untreated, cancer can continue to grow and spread to other parts of the body, making it more challenging to treat effectively.
  2. Reduced Treatment Options: Delayed treatment may limit the available treatment options, as some therapies may no longer be effective in advanced stages of cancer.
  3. Decreased Quality of Life: As cancer progresses, it can cause pain, discomfort, and other symptoms that significantly impact the individual’s quality of life.
  4. Risk of Complications: Untreated cancer can lead to serious complications, such as organ failure or life-threatening infections, which can further worsen the person’s health condition.

Celebrities who have fought cancer and won

Sonali Bendre

Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2018. The actress had cancer treatment in the United States and returned cancer-free. She starred in several Bollywood blockbusters, including ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ and ‘Sarfarosh.’Source https://www.outlookindia.com/art-entertainment/bollywood-stars-who-bravely-battled-with-cancer-news-82492 

Mumtaz

This evergreen Bollywood actress won many hearts with her beauty and charismatic performances in movies such as Do Raaste, Chor Machaye Shor, Aag, Khilona, Aadmi aur Insaan, Upaasna and so on. At the age of 54 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought the disease for 11 years and made sure it did not get the better of her. She was also featured in the UniGlobe Entertainments documentary on cancer survival called ‘1 Minute’.Source https://www.obesitydoctor.in/health-tips/Indian-Celebrities-Diagnosed-with-Cancer

Robert De Niro

Thanks to regular medical checkups, the actor’s prostate cancer was diagnosed at an early stage in 2003. In December of that year, De Niro had surgery, a typical treatment option when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland.Source https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2014/celebrities-who-beat-cancer-photo.html#slide7 

What is Immunotherapy 

Overview

Immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy or biotherapy, refers to the use of drugs or substances that stimulate a patient’s own immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Unlike traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, which directly target cancer cells, immunotherapy aims to enhance the body’s natural defense mechanisms against cancer.

Procedure

Immunotherapy can be administered through different approaches, including:
  1. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: These drugs block certain proteins called immune checkpoints that inhibit the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells. By blocking these checkpoints, immune checkpoint inhibitors unleash the immune system’s full potential to fight cancer.
  2. Adoptive Cell Transfer: This procedure involves extracting immune cells, such as T cells, from a patient’s body, modifying or enhancing them in the laboratory, and then reintroducing them back into the patient. The modified immune cells are better equipped to identify and destroy cancer cells.
  3. Monoclonal Antibodies: These are laboratory-made antibodies designed to target specific proteins present on cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies can either directly attack cancer cells or trigger immune responses against them.

How Does Immunotherapy Work?

Immunotherapy works by stimulating and enhancing the immune system’s ability to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Cancer cells can sometimes evade detection by the immune system by expressing proteins that inhibit immune responses or by creating an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Immunotherapy disrupts these evasion mechanisms, allowing the immune system to identify and target cancer cells effectively

Who needs Immunotherapy 

The eligibility for immunotherapy depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, overall health condition, and previous treatments. Immunotherapy has been approved for various cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and certain types of gastrointestinal cancers. However, not all patients may be suitable candidates for immunotherapy, and individual assessments by healthcare professionals are necessary.

How to prepare for Immunotherapy 

Preparing for immunotherapy involves several important steps to ensure that the treatment is safe and effective. Here are some key aspects to consider when preparing for immunotherapy:
  1. Consultation with an Oncologist: The first step is to consult with an oncologist or a cancer specialist who can determine if immunotherapy is a suitable treatment option for your specific cancer type and stage. They will review your medical history, conduct physical examinations, and order necessary tests to assess your overall health and cancer status.
  2. Understanding the Treatment: It is crucial to have a clear understanding of how immunotherapy works and what to expect during the treatment process. Your oncologist will explain the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of immunotherapy to help you make an informed decision.
  3. Medical Evaluation: Before starting immunotherapy, your oncologist may conduct various medical evaluations, including blood tests, imaging scans, and biopsies. These evaluations help assess your general health, cancer stage, and specific characteristics of your tumor that may impact the response to immunotherapy.
  4. Managing Other Health Conditions: Inform your oncologist about any pre-existing health conditions, allergies, or medications you are taking. It is essential to manage these conditions appropriately to minimize any potential complications during immunotherapy.
  5. Vaccinations: Ensure that your vaccinations are up-to-date before starting immunotherapy. Some vaccines may interfere with the effectiveness of immunotherapy, so it’s essential to discuss this with your healthcare team.
  6. Emotional and Mental Preparation: Coping with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment can be emotionally challenging. Consider seeking support from friends, family, support groups, or counseling services to help you cope with the emotional aspects of treatment.
  7. Lifestyle Choices: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can support your body’s ability to respond to immunotherapy. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to overall well-being.
  8. Potential Side Effects: Immunotherapy can cause side effects, which vary depending on the type of treatment. Common side effects include fatigue, skin reactions, flu-like symptoms, and inflammation. Understand the potential side effects and discuss with your healthcare team how they will be managed.
  9. Financial and Insurance Considerations: Immunotherapy can be costly, so it’s essential to understand the financial implications and check with your insurance provider to ensure coverage for the treatment.
  10. Support System: Having a reliable support system during immunotherapy can be invaluable. Inform your friends and family about your treatment schedule and involve them in your care journey.
  11. Treatment Schedule: Your oncologist will outline the treatment schedule, which may involve several sessions of immunotherapy over a specific period. Ensure that you can commit to the treatment plan as prescribed.
  12. Consent and Paperwork: Before starting immunotherapy, you will be asked to sign consent forms that detail the risks and benefits of the treatment. Take the time to read and understand these documents before signing them.
Immunotherapy is a promising cancer treatment that has shown significant benefits for many patients. By preparing thoroughly and working closely with your healthcare team, you can optimize your chances of a successful and positive immunotherapy experience.

Benefits of Immunotherapy

  1. Targeted Treatment: Immunotherapy specifically targets cancer cells, sparing healthy cells and reducing the adverse effects often associated with traditional treatments.
  2. Long-lasting Effects: Immunotherapy can train the immune system to recognize and remember cancer cells, potentially providing long-term protection against cancer recurrence.
  3. Potential for Combination Therapies: Immunotherapy can be combined with other treatment modalities, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to enhance the overall effectiveness of cancer treatment.

Risks of Immunotherapy

  1. Immune-related Adverse Effects: Immunotherapy can cause immune-related adverse effects, which occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues or organs. These adverse effects can affect various organs and systems, including the skin, gastrointestinal tract, liver, lungs, and endocrine glands. Early recognition and management of these side effects are crucial.
  2. Limited Efficacy in Some Cases: While immunotherapy has shown remarkable success in certain cancers, its effectiveness varies among different cancer types and individual patients. Not all patients respond to immunotherapy, and further research is needed to understand the factors influencing treatment outcomes.
  3. High Cost: Immunotherapy can be expensive, and the cost may limit its accessibility to some patients. However, ongoing research and developments aim to improve affordability and availability.

What to do after Immunotherapy

After completing immunotherapy, it is essential to take certain steps to monitor your health and manage any potential side effects or long-term effects of the treatment. Here are some key considerations for what to do after immunotherapy:
  1. Follow-Up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your oncologist or healthcare team. These visits are crucial for monitoring your progress, assessing treatment response, and detecting any potential recurrence or new developments.
  2. Health Monitoring: Pay attention to any changes in your health or any new symptoms that arise after immunotherapy. Report these changes to your healthcare team promptly so they can be addressed and managed effectively.
  3. Manage Side Effects: Immunotherapy can cause side effects, and some may persist even after the treatment is completed. Continue to communicate with your healthcare team about any lingering side effects and follow their recommendations for managing them.
  4. Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. A healthy lifestyle can support your body’s recovery and overall well-being.
  5. Supportive Care: Consider participating in support groups or seeking counseling services to help cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of post-treatment life. Supportive care can provide valuable resources and a sense of community during this phase.
  6. Monitor Mental Health: Cancer treatment can take a toll on mental health, so be mindful of any feelings of anxiety, depression, or emotional distress. Seek help from mental health professionals if needed.
  7. Cancer Screenings: Depending on your cancer type and risk factors, your healthcare team may recommend regular cancer screenings to monitor for any potential recurrence or new cancers.
  8. Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest research and advancements in cancer treatment and survivorship. Knowledge can empower you to make informed decisions about your health.
  9. Vaccinations: Consult with your healthcare team about recommended vaccinations after immunotherapy. Some vaccines may need to be delayed to ensure the best immune response.
  10. Maintain Communication: Keep communication lines open with your healthcare team. Inform them of any changes in your health or any new medications or treatments you are considering.
  11. Empower Yourself: Learn about survivorship resources and organizations that can offer support and information tailored to cancer survivors.
  12. Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate your milestones and progress during your cancer journey. Acknowledge your strength and resilience in overcoming the challenges of cancer and treatment.
Remember that the post-immunotherapy phase is a critical time for long-term recovery and management of your health. By staying engaged with your healthcare team and taking an active role in your well-being, you can enhance your quality of life and continue to thrive after immunotherapy.

Celebrity who has same disease

Sonali Bendre

Bollywood actress Sonali Bendre was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2018. The actress had cancer treatment in the United States and returned cancer-free. She starred in several Bollywood blockbusters, including ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ and ‘Sarfarosh.’

Mumtaz

This evergreen Bollywood actress won many hearts with her beauty and charismatic performances in movies such as Do Raaste, Chor Machaye Shor, Aag, Khilona, Aadmi aur Insaan, Upaasna and so on. At the age of 54 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought the disease for 11 years and made sure it did not get the better of her. She was also featured in the UniGlobe Entertainments documentary on cancer survival called ‘1 Minute’.

Robert De Niro

Thanks to regular medical checkups, the actor’s prostate cancer was diagnosed at an early stage in 2003. In December of that year, De Niro had surgery, a typical treatment option when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland.

Amazing Facts about Immunotherapy

The concept of immunotherapy dates back to the late 19th century when New York surgeon William Coley observed that cancer patients who experienced severe bacterial infections sometimes experienced tumor regression. He developed a mixture of bacteria known as Coley’s toxins to stimulate the immune system, which showed early signs of success in treating certain cancers. (Source)

In the 1980s, the discovery and production of interferon and interleukin laid the groundwork for modern immunotherapy. These signaling proteins, naturally produced by the body during viral infections, were found to have anti-cancer properties and were used in early immunotherapy trials. (Source)

The development of monoclonal antibodies marked a significant breakthrough in immunotherapy. In 1997, the FDA approved the first monoclonal antibody, rituximab, for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since then, numerous monoclonal antibodies have been developed to target specific cancer cells and immune checkpoints. (Source)

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is a groundbreaking form of immunotherapy that involves modifying a patient’s own T-cells to express a specific receptor that targets cancer cells. The modified T-cells are then infused back into the patient, where they seek out and destroy cancer cells. (Source)

Researchers are exploring the development of personalized cancer vaccines as a form of immunotherapy. These vaccines are tailored to a patient’s specific tumor antigens, stimulating the immune system to target and attack the cancer cells. (Source)

4 Reasons for Regular Cancer Screening

Complications of Untreated Cancer

What is Immunotherapy?

Overview

Immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy or biotherapy, refers to the use of drugs or substances that stimulate a patient’s own immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Unlike traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, which directly target cancer cells, immunotherapy aims to enhance the body’s natural defense mechanisms against cancer.

 

Procedure

Immunotherapy can be administered through different approaches, including:

  1. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: These drugs block certain proteins called immune checkpoints that inhibit the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells. By blocking these checkpoints, immune checkpoint inhibitors unleash the immune system’s full potential to fight cancer.
  2. Adoptive Cell Transfer: This procedure involves extracting immune cells, such as T cells, from a patient’s body, modifying or enhancing them in the laboratory, and then reintroducing them back into the patient. The modified immune cells are better equipped to identify and destroy cancer cells.
  3. Monoclonal Antibodies: These are laboratory-made antibodies designed to target specific proteins present on cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies can either directly attack cancer cells or trigger immune responses against them.

 

How Does Immunotherapy Work?

Immunotherapy works by stimulating and enhancing the immune system’s ability to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Cancer cells can sometimes evade detection by the immune system by expressing proteins that inhibit immune responses or by creating an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Immunotherapy disrupts these evasion mechanisms, allowing the immune system to identify and target cancer cells effectively

Who needs Immunotherapy

The eligibility for immunotherapy depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, overall health condition, and previous treatments. Immunotherapy has been approved for various cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and certain types of gastrointestinal cancers. However, not all patients may be suitable candidates for immunotherapy, and individual assessments by healthcare professionals are necessary.

How to prepare for Immunotherapy

Preparing for immunotherapy involves several important steps to ensure that the treatment is safe and effective.

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Appointment

Consult
Online

What to do after Immunotherapy

After completing immunotherapy, it is essential to take certain steps to monitor your health and manage any potential side effects or long-term effects of the treatment.

Follow-Up Appointments

Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your oncologist or healthcare team. These visits are crucial for monitoring your progress, assessing treatment response, and detecting any potential recurrence or new developments.

Health Monitoring

Pay attention to any changes in your health or any new symptoms that arise after immunotherapy. Report these changes to your healthcare team promptly so they can be addressed and managed effectively.

Manage Side Effects

Immunotherapy can cause side effects, and some may persist even after the treatment is completed. Continue to communicate with your healthcare team about any lingering side effects and follow their recommendations for managing them.

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. A healthy lifestyle can support your body’s recovery and overall well-being.

Supportive Care

Consider participating in support groups or seeking counseling services to help cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of post-treatment life. Supportive care can provide valuable resources and a sense of community during this phase.

Monitor Mental Health

Cancer treatment can take a toll on mental health, so be mindful of any feelings of anxiety, depression, or emotional distress. Seek help from mental health professionals if needed.

Cancer Screenings

Depending on your cancer type and risk factors, your healthcare team may recommend regular cancer screenings to monitor for any potential recurrence or new cancers.

Stay Informed

Stay updated on the latest research and advancements in cancer treatment and survivorship. Knowledge can empower you to make informed decisions about your health.

Vaccinations

Consult with your healthcare team about recommended vaccinations after immunotherapy. Some vaccines may need to be delayed to ensure the best immune response.

Maintain Communication

Keep communication lines open with your healthcare team. Inform them of any changes in your health or any new medications or treatments you are considering.

Empower Yourself

Learn about survivorship resources and organizations that can offer support and information tailored to cancer survivors.

Celebrate Milestones

Celebrate your milestones and progress during your cancer journey. Acknowledge your strength and resilience in overcoming the challenges of cancer and treatment.

Remember that the post-immunotherapy phase is a critical time for long-term recovery and management of your health. By staying engaged with your healthcare team and taking an active role in your well-being, you can enhance your quality of life and continue to thrive after immunotherapy.

Benefits of Immunotherapy

Risks of Immunotherapy

DR. AVINASH TANK

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