Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month 2020
There are many different awareness dates throughout the year and they are designed to significantly help the general public understand more about a particular topic, whether that’s equal rights, health issues or even specific products, such as milk and eggs.
One could pick almost any day of the year and find hashtags online promoting a specific awareness date.
Many of these dates are related to healthcare, as you might expect. While some may have been designed to highlight certain medical conditions, such as cancer awareness dates, others have been established to help increase knowledge and understanding of available treatments.
One such event is Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month. Here we take a closer look at cancer immunotherapy and how this yearly awareness event helps to improve understanding and raise crucial funds for future research.
When is Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month?
Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month runs through the whole of June and focuses on treatments and therapies that encourage an individual’s immune system to fight the disease. Each year there are numerous activities and events organized by the Cancer Research Institute. Not only is Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month designed to improve understanding of this type of treatment, it also aims to help raise money for research.
A big part of Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month involves sharing the latest research into immunotherapy as well as cancer patient treatment stories related to this form of therapy. In addition, people are encouraged to take part in fundraising activities.
What is Cancer Immunotherapy?
Our immune systems are extremely important in helping to fight off infection, helping to produce antibodies and other responses to combat viruses and illnesses.
The immune system can work naturally to slow the speed of growth of cancer but certain obstacles need to be overcome. For example, cancer cells are quite good at changing their genetic profile to combat the immune response in the first instance. Some cancers have proteins over their surface which effectively turn off immune cells and stop the body fighting back.
Cancer immunotherapy looks at ways to help the immune system to overcome these obstacles, slow down the growth of tumors and destroy cancer cells.
Research has shown that this can be achieved in several different ways:
- One method involves creating drugs to reduce the power of immune checkpoints. A checkpoint is a natural part of the immune response that prevents activity being too strong and damaging the body.
- T-cell transfer involves taking immune cells that are successfully attacking a tumor and either enhancing them or replicating them before injecting back into the body.
- Another approach is to create monoclonal antibodies which attach to specific areas on cancer cells so that they are more readily identified by the immune system.
- Other research has identified immune system modulators that are used to enhance the body’s natural response as well as treatment vaccines.
How each cancer immunotherapy is delivered depends on the approach used and the type of cancer involved. Treatments can been administered by injections, pills and also topical applications, such as creams which are rubbed into the skin.
Some treatments are given every day, others once a month. They can also be delivered in a cycle with a period of rest in between a set of treatments. Physicians will monitor progress through scans and blood tests as well as physical exams.
Who is Using Cancer Immunotherapy?
Currently, cancer immunotherapy is being used for a wide variety of different cancers but is still far less widely utilized compared with chemotherapy. It can cause side effects such as pain and swelling but a lot depends on how aggressive the cancer is and how long the immunotherapy has to be maintained for.
- The FDA in the USA has currently sanctioned about 50 types of immunotherapy that are being used in a wide range of cancers.
- This includes the checkpoint inhibitor Atezolizumab that is being used for lung, bladder and breast cancer treatments.
- Another is the immunomodulator Imiquimod, which is employed to target skin cancer and is applied using a topical cream. Initially developed to treat genital warts, it has also been shown to successfully treat superficial basal cell carcinoma.
Increasing Awareness of Cancer Immunotherapy
Cancer Immunotherapy Awareness Month takes place throughout the whole of June. It highlights stories and the latest news relating to immunotherapy while also promoting charity events to help fund future research.
The ultimate aim of this yearly event is to help fuel the continuous progression of this lifesaving form of cancer treatment. This is achieved by sharing patient stories and information about the latest immunotherapy research as well as raising funds to ensure that effective research continues to take place.
To learn more about the immunotherapy treatments available at Verita Life, contact us here.