Millennials are lucky to have witnessed transformational advancements in almost every field. New innovations are being made every day. And with all these advancements, it seems like researchers may have found a new way to treat Lung Cancer. Lung Cancer is the most common cause of Cancer related deaths. But with this new treatment approach, combined with the already existing proven methods, it has emerged as a silver lining for all Non Small Cell Lung Cancer(NSCLC) patients out there. This new Lung Cancer treatment therapy is known as Immunotherapy. Now before you start wondering what  Immunotherapy is, here’s a full guide for you to better understand the newest Lung Cancer medical treatment in India and all over the world:

What is Immunotherapy :

Immunotherapy basically involves providing medications to the patient that boosts their immune system to fight the cancer cells by themselves. The immune system also has a very special role which prevents it from going after fit and healthy cells. For this purpose, the immune system uses checkpoints. So let’s see what are checkpoints.

What are Checkpoints and Checkpoint Inhibitors :

Immune checkpoints are present in the body to suppress any attack by the immune system to healthy cells/organs by turning on and off the immune cells accordingly. Growing Cancer cells can attack these checkpoints thereby avoiding the immune system to work against them. PD-1(protein) is one of the well-known checkpoints which is present on the surface of T Cells that fight against Cancer Cells. But cancer cells can befriend them and can use them to surpass the immune cells without being attacked. To prevent this, checkpoint inhibitors are used. Some of the widely used inhibitors are:

  • Nivolumab (Opdivo)
  • Pembrolizumab Keytruda
  • Durvalumab (Imfinzi)
  • Atezolizumab (Tecentriq)

How do Checkpoint Inhibitors work?

Both Nivolumab (Opdivo) and Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) Checkpoint inhibitors target PD-1 and block them and disable them from targeting healthy cells in the body.

Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) is another inhibitor that targets PD-L1, a protein that is closely related to PD-1.

All of the above inhibitors are used in treating patients with advanced NSCLC. However, in cases of stage III NSCLC, surgery is not always possible and this is where Durvalumab (Imfinzi) is used, which also targets PD-L1.  Durvalumab (Imfinzi) is mostly used to prevent cancer from spreading further.

What are the side effects of Immunotherapy?

Since Immunotherapy is still in its developing stage and researchers are working towards exploring this new Lung Cancer treatment, it can have possible side-effects too which include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Breathlessness or Shortness of breath which mainly causes trouble in breathing
  • Swollen legs (edema)
  • Sinus congestion
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain from retaining fluid
  • Diarrhea
  • Hormonal changes
  • Cough
  • Skin Allergy which might cause reddening

Future of Immunotherapy in treating Cancer:

Researchers from all around the world are actively working on finding new ways to make Immunotherapy a more productive treatment method. Moreover, researchers are also trying out new techniques to make Immunotherapy more effective, by combining it with existing treatment options like chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, etc. Judging by the advancements made in the past decade, we can hope for improved success rates of treating lung cancer patients using Immunotherapy. It is important for every lung cancer patient seeking medical treatment in India as well as outside India that Immunotherapy takes time and it requires patience. Also, it is important that your doctor knows about your body and immune system as much as possible before starting Immunotherapy. Furthermore, patients who have recovered can possibly experience various side effects and therefore, it is necessary to follow-up with their doctors in such cases.

Author's Bio: 

Daniel Clark is a full-time blogger who is always passionate to explore new areas of writing. He believes that being unique is one of the best mantras of a successful writer. Nothing can stop him from uncovering the eccentric facts about everything!