One of the most promising areas in cancer research and precision medicine today is “Immunotherapy“. Credited as the first therapy ever proven to extend the lives of patients with metastatic melanoma, immunotherapy is changing the way some cancers are treated.
Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… Immunotherapy refers to a class of treatments that use the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. Some treatments boost the body’s immune system in a very general way, while others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically. Today, most people who receive immunotherapy have cancers that are advanced. Their cancers have either recurred and spread after primary treatment, or were diagnosed in an advanced stage. Often times, patients receiving immunotherapy treatments are enrolled in a clinical trial.
Because immunotherapy is a rapidly evolving field, understanding the “basics” can be complicated and confusing. One of the best resources I’ve found to help explain the complexities of immunotherapy is the Cancer Support Community’s new program… Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Your Immune System & Cancer Treatment.
Additionally, the Cancer Support Community is hosting several FREE webinars on immunotherapy for patients diagnosed with melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma and lung cancers. “Immunotherapy Advances in Melanoma” is scheduled for September 9, 2014 at 6:30pm EST.
Other fantastic resources on immunotherapy include:
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) is dedicated to advancing the immune system’s power to conquer all cancers. Click HERE to see brief statistics on specific cancers as well as an overview of the current and potential impact of immunotherapy for each cancer type. All content on this site has been reviewed and verified by experts in cancer immunotherapy.
Great informational site for patients and caregivers who are interested in learning more about cancer immunotherapy as a treatment option. Hear firsthand from patients who have benefitted from this novel approach to cancer treatment.
Many patients are not aware of opportunities to participate in clinical trials and may find it difficult to identify trials that may be appropriate for them. The Cancer Research Institute has partnered with EmergingMed to provide the Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder, a tool designed to help patients quickly search for clinical trials that match their specific cancer diagnosis and treatment history.
The Cancer Research Institute also has Clinical Trial Navigators available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST who can help you find personalized trial matches, connect with study sites, and answer many of your questions. Simply call (toll-free) 1-855-216-0127. This service is free and completely confidential.
If you need help navigating clinical trial options or financial assistance to attend a clinical trial, connect with Lazarex Cancer Foundation. Lazarex can help with the costs associated with participating in a clinical trial, including:
- Transportation (airfare, gas, rental cars, taxi fare, parking/tolls)
- Lodging (short- and long-term housing)
- Certain medical expenses not covered by insurance and necessary for clinical trial treatment.
In case you’re interested, Targeted Oncology (fantastic site for the latest news and insights from leading researchers and cancer centers) has a great article on the history of immunotherapy which dates back to the late 19th century.
Make sure to discuss any findings with your doctors and health care team. Knowledge is power…