Biological therapy is the newest way to treat cancer, but it is still in its developing stages. But when we take a look at this therapy, it shows promising results. Here are five interesting facts about this treatment that you should know:
1 It uses live organisms
Yes, you read that right. This therapy involves the use of living organisms, substances derived from living organisms, or man-made simulators of these substances to treat cancer or any other disease. For patients with cancer, biological therapies may be used to treat cancer itself or the side effects of other cancer treatments such as Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT).
2. It works by helping your immune system fight cancer cells
It is believed that the natural immune and genetic system in the body can not only prevent cancers but also detect and destroy abnormal cancer cells as and when they are formed. There are two counteracting forces of gene systems – naturally occurring tumor suppressor genes and tumor promoter genes that are induced by the internal or external environment. Their balance determines the occurrence or avoidance of cancer. Somehow this mechanism is believed to fail in an individual having cancer.
The immune cells responsible for the elimination of cancer cells are either unable to detect them or fail to eliminate them. The reasons for this failure are not clearly understood, but many factors such as the diet, tobacco, exposure to chemicals, radiation, infections, repeated injuries, genetic factors, and other currently known cancer-causing substances can lead to the imbalance of this mechanism and result in cancer. Therefore it is logical to infer that the attempts to restore this balance in the body should lead to the elimination of cancer cells.
3. The treatment is still in its developing stages
At present, the understanding of these strategies is in the nascent stage, but rapid developments are in progress. Monoclonal antibodies like rituximab for B-cell lymphomas, trastuzumab for HER 2 positive breast cancers, BCG vaccine for superficial urinary bladder tumors, interferons, and interleukins for kidney cancers have been proven and are being used currently. Other treatments should be considered as investigational and not suggested for routine use.
4. This treatment has a side effect too
Administration of these agents is simple, but side effects also vary according to the agent used. Therefore it is essential that the treating physician take the necessary precautions as it cannot be generalized and varies depending on the type of cancer being treated and the agent being used for the treatment. So, speak to your physician about the possible side effects before opting for the treatment.
5. This treatment is not available for all cancers
The availability of these agents does not mean that these treatments are available for all cancers. They have to be used very selectively only after sufficient evidence of benefit has been proven through scientific research.