Drug treatment uses body’s own immune system to fight cancer - CBS46 News

Drug treatment uses body’s own immune system to fight cancer

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

It’s a new, breakthrough treatment for cancer, in some cases an alternative for treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.

It’s called immunotherapy and it uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer. The procedure is currently offered in clinical trials and in specialized cancer treatment centers.

CBS46 went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Newnan to learn more about it.

Dr. Patricia Rich, an oncologist at CTCA told CBS46 she was running out of options to save the life of one of her patients.

“She had stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the lung, she even had received radiation to the brain,” Dr. Rich recalled. “I had no other options for her,” Dr. Rich added.

After five years of traditional treatments, Dr. Rich found a promising clinical trial. It was for immunotherapy, the new drug treatment. 

“[With] Immunotherapy, the role is not to attack the cancer cell, it’s to get our immune system, wake it up and get it to attack the cancer cells…it’s like a lock and key. You turn the key and turn it on,” Dr. Rich explained.

Unlike chemotherapy, a drug treatment that kills cancer cells, immunotherapy boosts the body's own immune system, helping it recognize and attack cancer cells.

“She had an amazing response,” Dr. Rich stated.

Dr. Rich's first immunotherapy patient is still alive today, three years later thanks to the treatment. It is now the first treatment she offers some of her patients at CTCA.   

“Now we have an excellent option for our patients that we didn’t have before,” Dr. Rich contended.  

Immunotherapy is not right for all cancer patients. It depends on the type of cancer and the makeup of the cancer cell. A molecular test can help a doctor determine if immunotherapy is the best treatment.

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