Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer - PathSOS
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to stimulate a person’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Immunotherapy is being increasingy used to treat some forms of non-small cell lung cancer of the lung, also known as NSCLC in short. This subset can be diagnosed by assessing PDL-1 expression with immunohistochemistry.
In 2015, the FDA approved nivolumab (Opdivo®) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer that has stopped responding to standard chemotherapy — in other words, as second-line therapy.
These drugs block a protein called PD-1, which is normally found, on immune cells. PD-1 acts like a brake on the immune system, clamming down immune responses. Nivolumab and pembrolizumab release this brake system, allowing the patient’s ownimmune system to mount a stronger attack against cancer cells.
A number of clinical trials are testing immunotherapy drugs in all settings: before and after surgery for early stage lung cancers, as first-line therapy in patients with advanced lung cancers, and in patients who have previously received chemotherapy.
At PathSOS our cancer diagnostic specialists have immense experience in diagnosing cancer that show positivity with PDL-1 and is eligible for therapy, thus enabling precision medicine with tailored therapy.
What are Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors?
A very crucial role of the immune system is its ability to prevent itself from attacking normal cells in the body. To be able to do this, it uses “checkpoints” – which are molecules on immune cells that need to be turned on (or off) to start an immune response. It has been found that Cancer cells sometimes use these checkpoints to avoid being attacked by the immune system. But newer drugs that are being discovered can target these checkpoints may hold a lot of promise as next line of cancer treatments.
- Nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) target PD-1, a protein on immune system cells called T cells that normally helps keep these cells from attacking other cells in the body. By blocking PD-1, these drugs boost the immune response against cancer cells. This can shrink some tumors or slow their growth.
- Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) targets PD-L1, a protein related to PD-1 that is found on some tumor cells and immune cells. Blocking this protein can also help boost the immune response against cancer cells.
- Durvalumab (Imfinzi) also targets the PD-L1 protein. This drug is used a little differently than the other immunotherapy drugs. It is used in people with certain types of NSCLC whose cancer has not gotten worse after they have already received chemotherapy along with radiation (chemoradiation). The goal of treatment with this drug is to keep the cancer from getting worse for as long as possible.
Mode of drug delivery: These immunotherapy drugs are given as an intravenous (IV) infusion every 2 or 3 weeks.
Immunotherapy Possible Side Effects
As with all drugs, there are side effects of these drugs which include fatigue, cough, nausea, itching, skin rash, loss of appetite, constipation, joint pain, and diarrhea.
Other, more serious side effects can also occur nut less often.
It is important to report the side effects promptly to your treating doctor for action.
PATHSOS team of specialists is trained in these treatments and diagnosis. According to Dr Abha Malik PATHSOS expert lung cancer diagnostician; proper interpretation and analysis of PD-L1 expression , is the critical step here to identify the subset of patent’s that will benefit from this new lung "cancer immunotherapy".
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