We know that cancer cells are sneaky.
And they find remarkable way to stay alive.
What we’ve discovered is that they’re even able to shut down the cells in our immune system – the T-cells – that hunt down and kill infections, damaged cells and yes, cancer cells.
There’s a little switch on the T-cell and cancer is able to turn off that switch.
When that switch is off, the T-cells can no longer hunt down and kill the cancer cells.
But, as diligent as these cancer cells are, scientists are working even harder.
And that’s why the Nobel Prize has just been awarded to two amazing Cancer Scientists.
These scientists, Dr. James Allison and Dr. Tasuku Honjo, have each developed a sneaky way of their own to stop these cancer cells.
These doctors have developed what is called a ‘checkpoint inhibitor’. This is a type of drug that helps our own immune system fight against cancer. This drug seeks out the T-cells and can actually, physically block the area of the T-cell that cancer uses to turn it off. Now the T-cells are free to roam through the body doing what they do best – killing cancer cells.
This form of treatment is a type of biologic therapy called immunotherapy. Treatment works to boost your own immune system, in different ways, to help fight or destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy is a newer type of treatment and not as widely used as other forms of treatment such as surgery, radiation, or chemo. But there has been approval of this treatment for different types of cancers and clinical trials that are being conducted.
I was at a talk tonight – totally unrelated topic – but the message rings true for cancer too. It takes a village.
There are lots of ways to fight. Not every way will be the right way for all patients. But having options and an understanding of how these options work, will help you make the decision that’s best for you.
And having knowledge helps build empowerment.
Check out the link below to the article about these scientists and how their treatment is already helping patients with advanced melanoma and advanced lung cancer.
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