To date, there are over 200 different forms of cancer. It is also estimated that 4 out of 10 people are affected by cancer. Finding an effective treatment has been the main goal of doctors and research centers. Oral cancer is said to cause the highest number of deaths when compared to other types of cancer such as skin melanoma, breast cancer and cervical cancer. Survival rates in the last 30 years have not been encouraging. The spread of cancer is projected to increase by about 50 percent in the next 20 years. Up till recently, cancer patients could only rely on radiation and chemotherapy. This is despite the less than perfect results; however, new drugs and treatments ignite a new hope for cancer patients.
This treatment came to light at a recent press conference, where former President Jimmy Carter, speaking to Vox news said that he was suffering from melanoma cancer. He revealed that he was going to receive radiation alongside a lesser-known treatment called immunotherapy. Doctors have reported positive outcomes from patients who have received immunotherapy. For some, deadly tumors have disappeared and many others who were expected to die are still surviving. Doctors report that such a positive immunotherapy treatment outcome has not been seen under any other treatment.
Immunotherapy is also referred to as biologic therapy. This treatment works to improve the natural defenses of the body which in turn fights the cancer. The materials used are either made in the laboratory or proteins derived from the body. This treatment works in several ways:
• Stimulating the body to work smarter and harder so as to attack the cancerous cells
• Stopping or slowing down the spread of the cancer cells
• Giving the body extra immunity from man-made protein
Women with advanced breast cancer also have a reason to celebrate. The good news regarding breast cancer treatment today is a drug known as Herceptin. Specialists and researchers say that no other drug has been able to prolong the lives of women in the advanced stages of cancer as much as Herceptin has. In a recent study that was published by the New England Journal of medicine, it was found that Herceptin was able to boost the survival time for patients in the stage VI cancer for 25 months. This marks the best improvement survival period that has been experienced in ages.
Herceptin is under the class of drugs referred to as Monoclonal antibodies. These are lab engineered drugs that mimic the immune system of the body hence producing better results. Herceptin is designed to target the HER2 protein. When this protein is overproduced in the body, it results in proliferation of the harmful breast cancer cells. When Herceptin is taken, it works to bind the HER2 proteins found on the surface. When it binds them it either stops their proliferation or destroys the cancerous cells.
According to the Wall Street Journal, immunotherapy, which includes monoclonal drugs such as Herceptin is one of the most promising cancer treatments for 2015. In a seemingly bleak landscape for the treatment of cancer, these drugs are now inspiring a new hope for cancer patients.