What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy relies on the use of the immune system to remove cancer cells from the body, as it usually does for bacteria or viruses. This therapy teaches the immune system to identify and destroy tumor cells.
Immunotherapy represents a major hope in the fight against cancer. Although improvements are still needed, the many immunotherapy studies are doing very well. Several treatments are already available. This therapy is never used alone for first-line use, but can nevertheless help eradicate the tumor.
For several years, various avenues have been explored to stimulate the immune system like:
- Injection of the anti-tuberculosis vaccine which is known to stimulate immunity;
- Collection of lymphocytes, their multiplication in the laboratory and their re-injection to the patient;
- Injection of cytokines (chemical messengers) capable of stimulating the immune system. However, they can cause high fevers.
Studies have also been conducted on cancer cell modification. These were rendered harmless by laboratory irradiation and then re-injected into the patient. The challenge was to modify the cell sufficiently to stimulate immunity without altering it too much so that it does not differ too much from other cancer cells. Through this method, they remain recognizable from the immune system.
The treatment of cancers
Immunotherapy differs from other cancer treatments based on the fact that it does not directly target cancer cells but the patient’s immune system. The treatments currently used are aimed at releasing or restoring the action developed by the patient’s immune system against his/her tumor, in order to reduce or even eliminate it because the "memory" of the immune system is capable of recognizing and eliminating a possible resurgence of cancer cells. Turquie santé is currently experiencing the beginning of a real therapeutic revolution that should eventually affect many types of cancer, through the development of numerous drugs to use the patient’s own immune defenses to fight the tumor.
What are the particularities of Immunotherapy?
Recently developed treatments seek to inhibit the control of cancer cells on the patient’s immune system. In doing so, it is possible to obtain significant tumour reductions, sometimes remissions that are much longer than those obtained by traditional treatments. Unfortunately, only a minority of patients respond to immunotherapy (these are patients whose immune system effectively recognizes cancer cells as alien to the body and seeks to destroy them) and we are currently working to increase this proportion. Treatment tolerance is generally good, although a minority of patients may experience "autoimmune" reactions, meaning that excessive stimulation of the immune system can cause damage to the patient’s own organs.
What are the types of cancers that can be treated?
Currently, immunotherapy is commonly used in the treatment of advanced stages of melanoma and lung cancer. It is developed in many other tumours such as kidney cancer, bladder cancer, ENT cancer, prostate cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, breast cancer and so on.
It should eventually play a major role in the management of the majority of tumours even in the earlier stages.
Survival time three times greater
The analysis of 19 international studies conducted on 11,640 patients with different types of cancer shows that 25% of those treated with immunotherapy had a lasting response, compared to only 11% among those who received another treatment such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy. A lasting response consists of having a cancer-free survival time more than three times the median cancer-free survival time.
What are its types?
In practice, local immunotherapy is distinguished from general immunotherapy.
It is used for bladder cancer which tends to reoffend following surgery. It is based on the injection of anti-tuberculosis vaccines into the bladder.
General immunotherapy consists of injecting substances (interferon and interleukin 2) normally secreted by lymphocytes in case of aggression. These substances are produced by genetic engineering. In oncology, interferon is used to treat kidney cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, or melanoma.
How much does it cost in Turkey and Istanbul?
With Turquie santé, we help our patients pay affordable prices, but not at the expense of quality. You can choose from more than 70 clinics in Izmir, Istanbul, Turkey, Ankara, and Antalya.
Last update : 01/04/2020