Why Immunotherapy Can Help You Live Longer With Lung Cancer
When you think about cancer treatment, you probably think of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
But if you have advanced lung cancer, you should know that immunotherapy is another option that can help your body put up a stronger fight. And, in some cases, it gets significant results when other treatments have failed.
How does immunotherapy work?
“Our immune system is an intricate network of cells with the sole purpose of protecting us from invading microorganisms and from normal cells that undergo abnormal changes, such as cancer cells,” says oncologist Vamsidhar Velcheti, MD.
Your immune system likely stops many threats in their tracks. But as cancers take hold and grow, they sometimes begin to outpace or find ways to hide from your immune system. This means that your body’s natural defenses can no longer fight off the threat.
Immunotherapy uses drugs to increase the strength of your immune system and help it to do its job better.
Although oncologists have used immunotherapy to treat other types of cancer for a while, it has recently shown promising results in treating lung cancers, Dr. Velcheti says.
Lung cancers are often not diagnosed until they have reached a more advanced stage. As a result, curative treatment options often are not possible.
Chemotherapy, and even gene targeted treatments, work for lung cancer, however cancer cells become resistant to such treatments very rapidly.
Unleashing the force of your body’s immune system with immunotherapy can potentially control the cancer for a longer duration of time and, in some patients, for years.