by Marshaneil Soumi D’ Rozario | 08th Feb, 2019
The World Health Organization projects that the number of new cancer diagnosis will reach 22 million per year in the next two decades up from 14 million in 2012. In the same time frame, cancer-related deaths may increase by 70%. Seven of ten deaths resulting from cancer occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, with limited access to cancer screening and treatment. Dr. Bellaramine, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Fortis Malar Hospital, talks about Immunotherapy on World Cancer Day.
In India, Cancers of the oral cavity and lungs account for over 25% of cancer deaths in males, and cancer of the breast and oral cavity account for 25% cancers in females. For most people, a diagnosis of cancer is not as grim as it used to be. Today 68% adults and 81% of children with cancer will be alive at least 5 years after diagnosis. This is a big improvement from 1970 when only 50% of adults and 62 % of children survived for 5 years.
The latest advance in the treatment of cancer is Immunotherapy. It has taken scientists more than a century to learn how to make the immune system of the body fight cancer. DR. JAMES P. ALLISON and DR. HONJO received a Nobel Prize for the discovery of Immunotherapy for cancer. Dr. Allison discovered CTLA-4 (Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte Antigen – 4) and Dr. TASUKU HONJO of Japan discovered PD-1 (Programmed Death – 1). These Checkpoints of Immunotherapies are important in fighting cancer. Research by ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) established that checkpoint inhibitors would save 250,000 years of life, if all US patients with advanced lung cancer receive the treatment. One in four patients with newly diagnosed cancer and one in ten with the previously treated disease may live at least 10 years or more beyond treatment limitation. Women who have mutations RAD5/C, RAD5/D, BRCA1 or BRCA2 should have salpingo-oophorectomy (ovaries removed) as it reduces cancer risk by 70% to 96%.
In August 2017, the FDA approved the first Adoptive Cell Immunotherapy also known as CAR-T Cell Therapy and the first gene therapy for cancer – TISAGENLECLEUCEL. This double first approval stems from decades of research on how to train the patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer.
Preventive actions to lower cancer risk:
1. Limit sun exposure
2. Exercise regularly
3. Maintain a healthy body weight
4. Limit alcohol consumption
5. Avoid smoking
6. Cancer health check-up after 50 years of age is advisable
7. Cancer preventing B- lateral oophorectomy after one or two children if BRCA1 or BRCA2 is positive.
8. Cancer preventing mastectomy can be done if BRCA positive (MUTATIONS).
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