Immunotherapy is called a fundamentally-new method of oncological disease treatment. Despite the fact that this method is still being studied and introduced into practice and most of the drugs remain experimental, immunotherapy has proved to be one of the most effective and painless ways to fight cancer. The method can be used at any stage, including treatment of inoperable patients. Immunotherapy has a special value in the treatment of patients with lung cancer and extremely unfavorable courses of melanoma.
What is immunotherapy and what are the features?Examining the behavior of cancer cells and the body reaction to the presence of malignant neoplasms, a few decades ago scientists made a conclusion that active growth and metastasis has to do with the participation of the immunity system. There was an impression that the mechanism of natural human protection did not recognize the dangers in rapid multiplying and growth of malignant cells. That is why biologists and oncologists paid more attention to the development of drugs which can activate the immunity system against certain types of cancer cells. The main purpose of immunological drug usage is to activate their own protective functions of the body and to activate the ability of immune cells to recognize tumor elements. Introduced in therapeutic practice, drugs with immune effects affect various aspects of cancer development:
- act directly on the tumor and destroy it;
- reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and agents for immunosuppression;
- prevent repeated growth of the tumor and the formation of metastases;
- prevent infectious complications, which are inevitable on the background of immunodeficiency, which develops on the background of other treatment methods.
Types of immunotherapy in oncologyModern medicine offers a variety and treatment schemes with the use of immune medications:
Active immunotherapy stimulates the body's response to a tumor. The method involves the usage of specific vaccines prepared directly from cancer cells and tumor antigens, as well as preparations based on interferon, interleukin and the tumor necrosis factor.
- Passive immunotherapy involves the use of drugs based on prepared antibodies, T-lymphocytes, dendritic cells, as well as cytokines and LAK-antibodies.