In RCCA offices all throughout New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut, doctors are using immunotherapy to treat patients with cancer. In many cases, immunotherapy is opening the door for more treatment possibilities beyond chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Because there are many different types of immunotherapies available today, it can be an effective way to combat a range of cancer diagnoses. Among the most common forms of immunotherapy currently being used are monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-cell therapies and cancer vaccines.
Monoclonal antibodies are man-made antibodies that are engineered to target the antigens in cancer cells. Because these antigens can be hard to identify, this form of immunotherapy is more effective for some cancers than others. Researchers have been able to successfully create antibodies for several different types of cancer, including some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, lymphoma of the skin, some types of leukemia, breast cancer and more.
Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
Checkpoints are molecules in our immune system that help detect which cells are normal and which are foreign. If foreign cells are detected, the immune response system will activate to destroy them. Unfortunately, cancer cells are smart and know how to trick these checkpoints into thinking they’re normal.
That’s where checkpoint inhibitors come in. They help boost the immune system and can be helpful for treating some skin cancers, non-small cell lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and some head and neck cancers. These drugs target different checkpoints, and thus target various types of cancer cells with varying efficacy.
CAR T-Cell Therapies
CAR T-cell therapy teaches our body’s white blood cells to find and destroy cancerous cells. This type of treatment involves removing white blood cells from the patient, genetically altering them in the lab and then infusing them back into the bloodstream. At this time, CAR T-cell therapy is most effective for advanced or recurrent acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children and young adults, as well as for certain types of advanced or recurrent large B-cell lymphoma.
Cancer vaccines prepare the body’s immune system to help treat cancer and/or prevent it from coming back. Right now, the only approved vaccine for cancer treatment in the U.S. is for patients with advanced prostate cancer. However, other cancer vaccines are being studied through clinical trials.
Find More Information
If you’re interested in learning more about immunotherapy, make an appointment at one of our RCCA office locations. Our cancer specialists can explain all available therapies in detail and help you discover the treatment plan that will be most effective for you.