Immunotherapy Can Help Treat Lung Cancer

On Monday, doctors reported that immune therapy medication can help treat patients suffering from lung cancer. The doctors in the report said that the drugs can provide patients with many additional years of living.

They said that when patients — prior to having surgery to remove cancerous tumors — receive the medication, it can not only melt the tumor but it also can limit the tumor’s growth, and it can even prevent the tumor from spreading. Furthermore, the doctors found that combinations of different immunotherapy medications can replace highly toxic chemotherapy.

Dr. Roy Herbst, who is a lung cancer specialist at Yale University and who was not involved in the report, says that the results are so shocking that — because of them — every lung cancer patient should receive the option of getting immunotherapy first. He further said that he had never seen so much progress made so fast before. He believes that the report will lead to a paradigm shift in the field of medicine that will result in lung cancer patients receiving immunotherapy treatment at the beginning of the process.

Immunotherapy works by helping an immune system fight cancer using a variety of different means, such as increasing activity by the immune system and by making tumorous cells visible through using manufactured immune system protein that directly goes after the tumors. This type of medication has notably already helped keep former President Jimmy Carter’s melanoma at bay.

Currently, lung cancer is the number one killer of cancer patients, not only in America but also across the world. The report, which was announced at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference in Chicago and which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrates that immunotherapy can change the way doctors treat lung cancer.

As part of the report, a group of researchers at John Hopkins University provided 21 lung cancer patients with immunotherapy prior to the patients receiving surgery to remove their cancer. 16 of these patients were still living one year later without any signs of cancer, while 3 died from lung cancer and another died from an unrelated injury.

Herbst said that — while this particular study had a small sample size — it did indicate that the treatment can have immediate and positive effects for those suffering from lung cancer.