Advances in Medical Oncology
For decades, scientific research continues to shed light on the fight against cancer. We can say that one of the greatest achievements has been the "Immunotherapy". Immunotherapies are treatments that restore or intensify the ability of the immune system to fight cancer.
It should be noted that for the decade of the nineties several medications were approved that would regulate or stimulate the immune system. Back then, a lot of the drugs turned out to be very toxic and the benefits to patients were limited. With time, more medications emerged, which although they increased the percentage of cure, were limited to treating only lymphomas (cancer that begins in the cells of the lymphatic system).
But, in the last twenty years of research, a greater understanding of the immune system has been achieved. What has allowed to develop more effective therapies to counteract different types of cancer. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States, approved Pembrolizumab and Nivolumab, two new drugs focused on making it easier for our immune system identify cancer cells. Both drugs have revolutionized the way to treat cancers of lung, melanoma and kidney with metastasis. Currently, it is in the process that these therapies can also be applied in other types of cancer, as studies have shown their effectiveness.
Other types of cancer treatment that may benefit from this modern immunotherapy include: bladder cancer, colon cancer with metastasis, head and neck cancer with metastasis, ovarian cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma among others.
Modern immunotherapy has been very effective for many patients. Although it should be noted that, although some patients face mild side effects such as skin rash, cough, or diarrhea, there are others who may present a more dramatic side effect with severe symptoms such as: colon inflammation (colitis) and inflammation of the respiratory tract (pneumonitis).
In summary, we can say that thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of thousands of scientists and voluntary patients, these new therapies represent an increasingly promising future in the fight against cancer. But we still have a lot to learn and discover in the field of oncology.
Source: Informes Medicos (2018); PanAmerican Medical Association of Central Florida [http://pamacfl.org/siguen-los-avances-en-la-oncologia-medical]
Written By: Dr. Carlos Alemañy
Board-certified Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology Physician
Cancer Institute of Florida (407) 303-2024
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