Katherine Trujillo Useche
Lung cancer is a disease in which cells in the body begin to multiply uncontrollably. An estimated 228,150 adults, 116,150 men, and 111,710 women in the United States were diagnosed with lung cancer this year, accounting for about 13% of all new cancer diagnoses.
In an interview for Medicine and Public Health (MSP), Dr. Carlos Méndez, hematologist oncologist, specialist in cancer treatment at the Hospital de HIMA San Pablo highlights immunotherapy and monoclonal treatments to improve the life of patients suffering from lung cancer.
Evolution of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is treatment with anticancer drugs that can be injected into a vein or given by mouth. These drugs pass through the bloodstream and reach almost every part of the body.
Doctor Mendez explains “Classically it is called chemotherapy, but today the greatest advances that we are having in lung cancer in terms of systemic treatments are now evolving towards therapies that are a little more specialized, more direct, more effective and less toxicity, these are what are called immunotherapies and targeted therapies, which are not like the classic chemotherapies that you are used to, but these immunotherapies are more specific for the tumor, with fewer side effects and, most importantly, still have more effectiveness equal to or much greater than classic chemotherapies “
Targeted therapies against lung cancer are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer within, on specific molecules that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer.
“Targeted therapies in lung cancer is one of the tumors where there is more mutagenesis and this means that it is where there are more mutations in cancer cells and we can use those genetic changes of these specific cells, we can treat them only without having to touch healthy cells of the body. It has been shown in recent years that these therapies are more successful than classic chemotherapies, although we still continue to use this type of chemotherapy in combination ”adds the specialist.
Chemotherapy drugs can cause side effects that depend on the type and dose of drugs given, as well as how long they are taken. Some common side effects of chemotherapy include hair loss, mouth ulcers, loss of appetite or weight changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
The oncologist indicates that the side effects with the new therapies are less aggressive “Today these targeted therapies and immunotherapies are much easier to tolerate, they no longer cause hair loss, the potential for nausea and vomiting that was classic today in days are minimal. We have new drugs that work to combat the side effects produced by these chemotherapies, the best thing is that the combination of these drugs to treat the condition has improved compared to what the patient felt 10 or 20 years ago ”.
Who can get immunotherapy?
Immunotherapies in particular are not for all people who have cancer, for this, some predispositions of the patient must be taken into account, Dr. Mendez explains.
“Immunotherapies are made depending on the tumor and the indication, it is used only in specific stages and tumors, for example in immunotherapy for patients who have autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis or lupus, the drugs used in immunotherapy can worsen these conditions, you have to be careful in these patients or use other types of medications as it may be worse for this patient ”he concludes.
The oncologist also emphasizes targeted therapies, these are done to some patients because the tumor has specific mutations that have to be assessed before performing this targeted therapy, so it is emphasized that it is always necessary to see if the patient is suitable for immunotherapy or for targeted therapy whatever your case.