Once again, we have encouraging news for cancer patients. A new drug that stimulates the immune system and attacks cancer cells. The drug, Keytruda has been found effective based on a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. It shows the drug, “is useful in combination with standard chemotherapy in the majority of patients diagnosed with advanced form of lung cancer.” The study further “estimates that one year after treatment, 69 percent of patients who received the immunotherapy drug, in addition to chemotherapy, would still be alive, compared with 49 percent of people who received chemotherapy alone”. The downside is a year and a half after treatment the disease had returned in three-quarters of patients with the new treatment. And, the treatment with Keytruda can cost $150,000. The march to find a cure continues, but it is inspired by continued success with immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done by shocking a patient’s own immune system to work smarter and attack cancer cells much like your immune system would fight off other infections.
Immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. Newer types of immunotherapy treatments are now being studied, and they’ll impact how we treat cancer in the future. Immunotherapy includes treatments that work in different ways. Some boost the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically.
Immunotherapy works better for some types of cancer than for others. It’s used by itself for some of these cancers, but for others it seems to work better when used with other types of treatment such as chemotherapy.
The search for a cure continues.