By Dr. Sushatkumar Ikhar, HCG NCHRI Cancer Centre – Nagpur

Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer. Its most common cause of death due to cancer worldwide. Most patients have history of smoking or tobacco chewing. But some patients do not have consumption of tobacco, these may be related to air pollution or passive smoking. The most common treatment ranges from chemotherapy, radiation, TKI (tablet targeting mutation in tumor) and immunotherapy, in selected few early stage, surgery can be done. The way immunotherapy works is unlike any other. The therapy harnesses the human body’s immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. This treatment has practically changed how lung cancer is treated. It is also proven to improve the outcomes and quality of life for people battling lung cancer.

Enhancing the body’s Immune Response:

Immunotherapy stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize and attack developing cancer cells more effectively. One of the most unique mechanisms that make immunotherapy a preferred treatment method is checkpoint inhibitors. These checkpoint inhibitors work by blocking proteins that cancer cells use to get away from the immune system, this allows the immune cells to identify and destroy the tumour. Regarding lung cancer, immunotherapy stimulates cytotoxic T cells that can quickly identify and eliminate the tumours. This method can help overcome the immune suppressive environment usually found in lung tumours, making them vulnerable
to immune attacks.

Survival Rates:

Few decades ago lung cancer had very poor prognosis with survival of less than 4 to 5 months.
Using immunotherapy in Lung cancer has, over time, shown positive results, it is an effective way that has expanded the treatment options for lung cancer patients. There have been trials that have been conducted that also show greater survival rates even though the disease has reached an advanced level. With immunotherapy, some patients have miraculous response which has led to a longer life and an improved quality.

What to look out for:

Compared to traditional treatments like chemotherapy, there are many advantages when patients opt for immunotherapy. Regarding chemotherapy, the treatment tends to cause added damage because of its non-selective cell-targeting nature, while immunotherapy targets cancer cells specifically hence damage to healthy cells is minimal. However, this approach sometimes results in lesser side effects such as nausea, fatigue and hair loss, mostly associated with chemotherapy.

Immunotherapy has been known to provide durable responses, which leads to cures for some individuals. This is particularly encouraging for lung cancer patients who are typically old aged and have poor tolerance to chemotherapy alone.

A ground-breaking approach to battle lung cancer, immunotherapy represents medical advancement. This treatment enhances the immune response, minimizes toxicity, offers personalized treatments, and improves overall survival rates. With proper implementation of the therapy, this treatment provides a sigh of relief for lung cancer patients and their families.