Immunotherapy. Experts announced universal oncology treatment technique.
One of the immuno-oncology founders professor Daniel Chen together with leading Russian oncologists Boris Alekseev and Konstantin Laktinov reported a new era in oncology diseases treatment – immuno-oncology.
Nowadays cancer immunotherapy is one of the breathtaking research areas. Some of the specialists consider this treatment method as a “forth pillar” among the all existing techniques along with surgical ones, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In confirmation the "Vesti.Nauka" (nauka.vesti.ru) project authors lead the cases when new therapy method defeated the most aggressive type of breast cancer.
Immunotherapy activates self-body defenses in the fight against cancer. In general, human immune system is initially aimed at protecting against external causative agents such as harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and toxins. However, cancer cannot be considered as external agent, it is mostly internal one: own body cell becomes aggressive and it starts dividing process.
Moreover, cancer cells disguise themselves from the immune system (and even from the treatment), which designed to track and fix all body malfunctions by special proteins producing (e.g. PD-L1). This is the reason why the malignant tumor becomes invisible for the immune system and it starts growing and spreading in the affected body zone and even beyond.
Immunotherapy medications are aimed to help immune cells (our defenders) to recognize tumor and father attack it, blocking cell formation and growth.
«Immunotherapy is based on involving of self-body immune system to the disease control process. This treatment type can potentially save humanity from cancer – one of the main death causes worldwide», - supposes Daniel Chen, vise-president and head of Anticancer Immunotherapy development division – Genetech (Roche Group of Companies).
According to Daniel Chen, today innovative immunotherapeutic drugs give an opportunity to doctors to save the millions of patients’ lives, including those with such dangerous and severe cancer as bladder cancer and lung cancer. In 2018, the first PD-L1 inhibitor was registered in Russia, which actually revolutionized the treatment of these diseases. Professor Chen was one of the unique drug creators.
If we talk about other benefits of immunotherapy, experts mention its versatility (one drug may be suitable for the several types of cancer treatment) and its therapeutic effect duration compared to standard chemotherapy. Immunotherapeutic drugs provide a long period of remission, returning people to an active life.
According to statistics, bladder cancer is among the ten most common types of cancer; more than 2.7 million people worldwide suffers from the disease. More than 430 thousand new cases and more than 165 thousand deaths are registered annually. At the same time 16 thousand new bladder cancers a year are diagnosed in Russia, an around 6 thousand patients die.
Experts explain that the main risk group are smokers, as well as people exposed to chemicals. It should be noted that men are diagnosed three times more often than women.
Bladder cancer can affect people of any age: it can grow in young people, and, as a rule, in the most aggressive form.
If we talk about the symptoms, the doctors indicate blood in the urine and incontinence, pain in the abdomen, lower back (kidney area), discomfort during urination.
There is a major problem related to the treatment of this cancer type, — every second patient is contraindicated for standard therapy (chemotherapy based on platinum). Until today, patients had a very few options for the disease treatment, the prognosis of the disease outcome was very unfavorable. For almost 30 years, innovative drugs for the bladder cancer treatment have not been registered in the world.
"Only 6 percent of patients with metastatic bladder cancer live more than five years. The main causes of high mortality – aggressive course of the disease and limited access to innovative treatments. According to doctor’s survey, a third of patients with bladder cancer do not address to specialist for more than six months after the appearance of dangerous symptoms. At the same time, in the later stages the probability of a positive outcome is significantly reduced," says Boris Alekseev, MD, Professor, Deputy Director for research of FSBU “NMIRC” of the Russian Federation Ministry of Health, scientific secretary of the Russian Society of Oncourologists, member of the European and International Associations of Urologists.
He presents terrible figures: every hour and a half bladder cancer takes one life. In this regard new treatment options are urgently needed.
"Today, with the advent of immunotherapy, there is an opportunity to defeat the disease. It is necessary to use this opportunity and positive results will not be long in coming," the scientist believes.
Another dangerous disease is a lung cancer - the most common cause of death among all cancer pathologies. Every year, doctors diagnose more than one million new cases of the disease. In our country lung cancer accounts for 15 percent of all deaths from cancer: more than 50 thousand patients a year with an average of 60 thousand diseased.
Again and again physicians note the same disease cause – Smoking (including electronic cigarettes). According to studies, the risk of lung cancer in smokers is 20 times higher in comparison with those who do not have this bad habit.
Of course, it is impossible to write off the ecological problems which also affects the development of the disease (for example, air pollution). As with bladder cancer, lung cancer is more common in men than in women. In addition, there is a direct dependence on age: 60-70-year-olds have a significantly higher incidence than 30-40-year-olds.
Lung cancer symptoms in the early stages are quite nonspecific: shortness of breath, chest pain, whistling sounds while breathing, chronic dry cough (in the later stages – with blood), an increase in lymph nodes in the supraclavicular area.
Experts advise once a year to do fluorography to detect lung cancer at an early stage. Scientists are constantly talking about the early diagnosis of the disease and warn that cure cancer at an early stage is real. In particular, the Director of the Eurasian Federation of Oncology, oncologist surgeon Somasundaram Subramanian mentioned about this earlier: "if many types of cancer are detected early, they can be cured. In some tumors, almost one hundred percent cure is possible, if the disease is detected at the first and second stages. If it is too late to identify, then we will not be able to save even 15 percent of the people."
Today the statistics are depressing: more than 70 percent of cases in Russia are diagnosed in the later stages.
"In metastatic lung cancer five-year survival is less than five percent. The fact is that until now treatment options were limited. Despite the height of the targeted therapy era, in the vast majority of cases patients continue to receive the first standard chemotherapy, which has a very limited effectiveness, "says Konstantin Laktionov, MD, Professor, head of the Department of Clinical Biotechnology, Deputy Director for clinical work of the FSBU “N. N. Blokhin NMIC of Oncology" of the Ministry of health.
According to him, in immunotherapy prosperity, the world found itself on the threshold of a new era in medicine. "It is important not to stop and continue to move forward – to a complete victory over Oncology," Laktionov adds.