Immunotherapy & How It Helps Lung Cancer Patients

Immunotherapy & How It Helps Lung Cancer Patients


It was an eye-opening learning experience, just last week when I attended a blogger workshop which aimed to raise awareness on Immunotherapy, a new chapter in the cancer treatment and prognosis of cancer in Malaysia. Before going into what Immunotherapy’s all about, we were given a rather shocking overview on the subject. Read on below.

Immunotherapy & How It Helps Lung Cancer Patients
Immunotherapy & How It Helps Lung Cancer Patients

Did You Know?


We all know the big C word is one of the most dreaded thing one can imagine to happen. But did you know that in Malaysia, lung cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer? Shocking isn’t it! Lung cancer accounts for more than 4,000 deaths per year. 

Lung cancer accounts for 4,088 deaths per year in Malaysia, 1.6 million deaths per year worldwide


Now that’s some scary insights. In fact, we learnt during the workshop that Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most commonly diagnosed category of cancer, accounting for 85% of all lung cancer cases.


Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most commonly diagnosed category of cancer
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most commonly diagnosed category of cancer

The common symptoms of lunch cancer can range from persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains to fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss

Now how did it get so bad for Malaysians? Why does this happen? What are the symptoms? I’m having the fear now…


Symptoms of Lung Cancer
The symptoms...

The prevalence of lung cancer in Malaysia is indeed rather wide spread. Over the years, there is significant advancement in cancer treatments. However, current cancer care options are still failing too many patients for advanced stage cancer. The challenges in effective treatment of lung cancer can be attributed to late diagnosis and limited treatment options over the last few decades, especially for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Here’s where Immunotherapy comes into the picture.

During our workshop, we got to listen to Kenneth Low (National Cancer Society of Malaysia), Choo Mei Sze, and Dato' Dr Mohamed Ibrahim (Consultant Clinical Oncologist)
At the workshop, we had the opportunity to hear the sharing from Kenneth Low (National Cancer Society of Malaysia),  Choo Mei Sze, and Dato' Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim (Consultant Clinical Oncologist)
Choo Mei Sze sharing her story as a cancer survivor.
Choo Mei Sze sharing her story as a cancer survivor. 

What is Cancer Immunotherapy?


Now that’s the big question isn’t it? Cancer Immunotherapy, also known as immuno-oncology, is a form of cancer treatment that uses the power of the body’s own immune system to prevent, control, and eliminate cancer. Imagine that, by educating our immune system to recognise and attack specific cancer cells!

Traditional cancer therapies in comparison to Cancer Immunotherapies
Traditional cancer therapies in comparison to Cancer Immunotherapies

Cancer Immunotherapy comes in a variety of forms, including targeted antibodies, cancer vaccines, adoptive cell transfer, tumor-infecting viruses, checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, and adjuvants. Some Immunotherapy treatments use genetic engineering to enhance immune cells’ cancer-fighting capabilities and may be referred to as gene therapies. Immunotherapy may be used by itself or with other types of treatment.

Dato' Dr Mohamed Ibrahim (Consultant Clinical Oncologist)
Dato' Dr Mohamed Ibrahim (Consultant Clinical Oncologist)

Immunotherapy is an Important Option for Cancer Treatment


Immunotherapy is an effective treatment for patients with certain types of cancers that are resistant to prior treatment with chemotherapy and radiation, and has also been approved as a first line of treatment in several cancers. It may be given alone or in combination with other cancer treatments. As of April 2019, the FDA has approved immunotherapies as treatments for nearly 20 cancers as well as cancers with a specific genetic mutation. 

Systemic, Targeted, Durable, Synergestic and Fewer Side Effects - Immunotherapy
Systemic, Targeted, Durable, Synergestic and Fewer Side Effects - Immunotherapy

What are the side effects to Immunotherapy?


We’ve all heard of the horrors of the side effects of conventional cancer treatments (aka chemotherapy), so now the question is whether Immunotherapy has the same side effects? The good news is, the side effects of Immunotherapy are tolerable and can be reversed if they are addressed immediately. 

The most common side effects are skin reactions, mouth sores, fatigue, nausea, body aches, headaches, and changes in blood pressure.  

The power of beating cancer lies within you
The power of beating cancer lies within you
Lung Cancer And Me Blogger Workshop 2019
Lung Cancer And Me Blogger Workshop 2019

Clinical studies on long-term overall survival have shown that the beneficial responses to cancer immunotherapy treatment are durable—that is, they can be maintained even after treatment is completed. An eye-opening workshop indeed, where we were truly educated on this exciting new cancer treatment. #KnowYourLungs #KnowYourOptions when it comes to cancer treatment.


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