Different Types Of Immunotherapy For Lung Cancer

Immunotherapy For Lung Cancer
2 Aug 2022
6 mins
Table Of Content
Different Types Of Immunotherapy For Lung Cancer

    Lung cancer is a type of respiratory cancer that occurs in the lungs, and it is characterized by the abnormal proliferation of the cells. Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting around 2.1 million people and causing an estimated 1.7 million deaths each year.


    Lung cancer treatment options most commonly include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, most lung cancer patients are diagnosed in their advanced stages, thereby making these treatments less effective.


    Recent studies have shown an improvement in the cancer condition of patients who have lung cancer when given immunotherapy. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy might destroy healthy cells too, while destroying cancer cells. However, immunotherapy helps the immune system recognize cancer and destroy cancer cells only.


    Let's learn about how immunotherapy in lung cancer works.

    What Is Immunotherapy?


    Immunotherapy, otherwise known as immuno-oncology, is a type of treatment used to treat cancer. Immunotherapy drugs are the agents that aid the body's immune system in fighting cancer. 

    How Immune System Works?


    The immune system recognizes foreign microorganisms that might cause harm to the body, thus protecting the body against these microorganisms.

    Types Of Immunotherapy


    There are various types of immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer and they are categorized into different classes. Let's discuss them.


    1. Immune checkpoint inhibitors: Most progress made in immunotherapy for lung cancer is due to progress in immune checkpoint inhibitors. Cells on the immune checkpoints are responsible for initiating or stopping an immune response. The immune system uses these checkpoints to determine what is healthy and what is abnormal. Cancer cells use these checkpoints and deceive the immune system, preventing the immune system from attacking them.


    PD-1 is one of the checkpoints used by cancer cells to trick the immune system. Another checkpoint called CTLA-4 is also a target of cancer cells. Immune checkpoint inhibitors or immunotherapy drugs prevent the immune system from getting tricked or deceived by the cancer cells, thus producing an immune response to attack these cells. These immune checkpoint inhibitors work by inhibiting these checkpoints, resulting in the immune system attacking the cancer cells. Examples of immune checkpoint inhibitors are:


    • Pembrolizumab
    • Nivolumab
    • Atezolizumab
    • Cemiplimab
    • Durvalumab
    • Ipilimumab
    • Dostarlimab


    2. Monoclonal antibodies: Antibodies act by fighting the foreign substance entering the body. Monoclonal antibodies are man-made antibodies that work similarly by fighting off the foreign cancer cells. Examples of drugs include:


    • Amivantamab
    • Bevacizumab
    • Necitumumab
    • Ramucirumab

    3. Adoptive T-cell therapy: The T-cells are removed from the body in adoptive T-cell therapy. These T-cells are then subjected to alterations to make them efficient at attacking the cancer cells. Once altered, these T-cells are put back into the body to help attack cancer cells. This procedure of removing T-cells from the body is otherwise known as  Plasmapheresis. However, the Adoptive T-cell therapy is being studied under clinical trials and is not approved by the FDA for treating lung cancer.

    4. Vaccines: Vaccines are used either for the prevention or treatment of a disease. However, vaccines for lung cancer are also being studied and are not approved by the FDA.

    Immunotherapy In Lung Cancer


    Since most lung cancer cases in India are being detected at advanced stages, traditional cancer treatments are only minimally effective. The treatment for lung cancer is tailor-made based on the molecular makeup of the cancer cells. Immunotherapy is highly effective for those individuals who have greater expression of PD-L1 proteins. Pembrolizumab and Nivolumab are the agents that have exhibited the highest  treatment success  rates among the immunotherapy treatments for lung cancer.

    Administration Of Immunotherapy


    Immunotherapy drugs are administered through IV into the veins (infusions). These infusions are given every few weeks depending upon the patient's condition.

    Side Effects Of Immunotherapy


    Side effects are a common part of any treatment. These side effects vary from person to person, and not everyone may experience them.


    Some common side effects observed in immunotherapy are:


    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling Fatigued
    • Rashes
    • Pain in the joints or muscles
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nauseous feeling
    • Itchiness

    In certain instances, immunotherapy might lead to triggering the immune system into attacking the body's organs, which can cause serious side effects that might even be life-threatening.


    These serious side effects include:


    • Inflammation in the liver
    • Lung inflammation
    • Kidney inflammation
    • Problems in the thyroid and pituitary gland
    • Autoimmune disorders


    In case of any side effects, informing the healthcare providers as soon as possible is essential for its early treatment.

    Immunotherapy: “A Revolutionary Therapy For Lung Cancer”


    Immunotherapy is making strides in lung cancer treatment as it has demonstrated positive outcomes in patients. When compared to conventional cancer therapy immunotherapy  can be regarded as  superior therapy since it is producing higher survival rates among advanced lung cancer patients. However, it is advised to discuss with your oncologist beforehand to know if you are an eligible candidate for receiving immunotherapy.


    Written by
    Arwa. AliakberContent Writer
    Tags :Lung cancerImmunotherapyDrugs for cancer