Immunotherapy: A Potential Cure for Cancer?

Cancer therapy that targets cancer cellsCould a cure for cancer be just around the corner? That’s what experts are claiming following the results of a new cancer clinical trial in Britain. The results from this applied form of therapy have been lauded as “spectacular” and surely point to it’s potential as a cure for cancer.

What is this therapy called? It’s known as immunotherapy and it works by turning the body’s immune system into a primed weapon against deadly cancer cells. During the latest clinical trial, immunotherapy was used to treat patients that had been diagnosed with advanced stage melanoma. Half of the participants’ tumors shrank or were brought under complete control.

Here’s a video that delves a little deeper into how immunotherapy works:

These astounding results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago. Experts in attendance were in agreement that the success of immunotherapy could usher in a whole new era for cancer treatments.

Stopping a Deadly Cancer in It’s Tracks

The most common type of cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer. Melanoma just happens to be the deadliest type of skin cancer, with an estimated 9,940 Americans expected to succumb to the disease in 2015.

Immunotherapy was successful in shrinking or bringing tumors under control in 58% of the 940 patients that participated in this skin cancer clinical trial. Each one had been diagnosed with advanced melanoma. The immunotherapy allowed these patients to live 11 and half months without any changes to their tumors.

Dermatologist checks for melanoma signs on patient

Each patient in this immunotherapy drug trial was diagnosed with advanced melanoma.

The chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center, Professor Roy Herbst, has also described the results of these drug trials as simply “spectacular.” He now believes that immunotherapy could soon replace chemotherapy as the standard cancer treatment.

“I think we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way oncology is being treated. The potential for long-term survival, effective cure, is definitely there,” says Professor Herbst.

Professor Peter Johnson, director of medical oncology at Cancer Research UK, was reported saying: “The evidence suggests we are at the beginning of a whole new era for cancer treatments.”

Dr. Alan Worsley, the senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, says “The powerful one-two punch treatment could block cancer’s ability to hide from the immune system.”

Giving New Life to Cancer Patients

Female participants enrolls in a cancer clinical trialCait Chalwin is a 43 year old woman from Cornwall who entered the clinical trial in 2013 shortly after being diagnosed with melanoma. Not long before that, Cait had developed a growth on her face. What at first was classified as benign turned out to be malignant and had metastasized to her lungs. Her doctors gave her less than 2 years to live.

Just as all hope seemed lost, Ms Chalwin was accepted into the immunotherapy drug trial at Royal Marsden Hospital. She received the treatment and now her cancer seems stable. Cait says she can feel a significant difference following the study.

“I am feeling absolutely amazing now. It took a long time to get back to normal, to feel how I felt before diagnosis, however I do firmly believe that if the treatment hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here now.

“At diagnosis, I was given 18-24 months to live, and this trial was my only hope – but it has given me my life back,” exclaimed Cait.

Footnote: Ms Chalwin will be returning to Royal Marsden Hospital every three months for a diagnostic scans. She has also since left the trial due to reported side effects.