KOCHI: Though only under 200 cancer patients have undergone the ‘immunotherapy’ in the state, a path-breaking discovery in cancer care that won the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine this year, there are takers for ‘quality of life’ for these patients. While not a cure, immunotherapy extends the time for a patient. It also keeps them healthier and happier than they are with constant chemotherapy and radiation.
Immunotherapy is a type of therapy where the bodies natural defences are boosted. It could either boost the substances present in the patients’ body or one made in the laboratory.
“It does not leave the sick effect of chemotherapy and more importantly offers a quality of life. More studies are going on and as we keep on making breakthroughs, it is opening up an untapped new area which means new hope for cancer patients. Medicines are being tested, mixed and in near future, we might have a better solution.,” said Dr V P Gangadharan, Oncologist.
“Nivolumab and pembrolizumab target PD-1, a protein on immune system cells called T cells that normally helps keep these cells from attacking other cells in the body. By blocking PD-1, these drugs boost the immune response against cancer cells. This can shrink some tumours or slow their growth. Responses are variable, survival is prolonged by 4-8 months and there are manageable side effects.
One dramatic aspect of immunotherapy is that in 10-20% of patients, the body keeps on fighting against cancer and they remain disease free for a long time,” said Dr Arun Warrier, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Aster Medcity.
Who wouldn’t want to extend the life of their loved ones by at least one day? However, more than the will and desire, money is the issue when it comes to the therapy. It costs around 1.5 lakh per month and very few can afford it in a largely working-class society. Without a doubt, the therapy brings hope to cancer patients who struggle day after day in the pain and the agony that comes with cancer.