New medical advances propose to stimulate the immune system as a treatment in the fight against cancer. So far it has been shown to be effective in melanomas and somewhat less so in kidney and lung cancers.
Cancer is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the main causes of death worldwide, causing 7.6 million deaths in 2008. Among the most frequent we find cancer lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast.
Although in recent decades much progress has been made in understanding why cancer appears, what its causes may be and what causes it, there is still a long way to go when it comes to finding effective treatments that manage to reduce most of the the cases.
One of the new hopes of medicine comes from the hand of a series of drugs that stimulate the immune system, which have been shown to be effective in melanomas, and to a lesser extent in kidney and lung cancers.
How does immunological cancer treatment work and act?
1) The immune system destroys malignant or tumor cells.
2) Certain tumor cells have a series of molecules on their surface that act as a shield.
3) Some of these drugs act on these proteins, causing the body’s immune system (especially lymphocytes) to once again be able to recognize the tumor and attack it.
Immunotherapy as a treatment in the fight against cancer
Although the stimulation of the immune system is a strategy that has been worked on for decades as a treatment in the fight against cancer, in recent years progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms that allow our immune system to combat cancer cells.
Precisely this research has provided the possibility of developing certain drugs – still mostly experimental – that enable leukocytes (cells of the immune system) to detect and subsequently fight tumor cells, avoiding the so-called deception strategies that they develop the tumors.
At least for now, the most positive results have been obtained in the treatment of advanced melanoma, which allows doctors to believe that it is possible to open a new stage in the fight against the disease.