Advanced treatments in Chemotherapy
A vast body of research, collected over decades, has confirmed that chemotherapy (or radiotherapy) alone is not sufficient to destroy neoplastic lesions completely. The standard routine now implemented in most hospitals is that of combining chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy alongside immunotherapies.
In essence, immunochemotherapy refers to the treatment and management of disease by combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy.
The goal of this combination is to improve the treatment outcome for patients with cancer by allowing for a reduction in drug dosage required to combat the cancerous cells. Through supporting a reduced drug dosage, this combination therapy can decrease the severity of side effects that are classically associated with cancer treatment. Also, the combination of treatments addresses the possibility of chemo-resistance in malignant cells.
Research taking place during the 19th century found that the immune system has an influence on the development and growth of cancer, leading to the idea that treatments that could target the immune system could be effective in treating cancer.
Cancer genetics became an established school of thought from around 1980 when the discovery of oncogenes was made. Genetics took over the scene for a while, following studies in the late 70s that downplayed the role of the immune system.
Eventually, the study of genetics led to the development of a more advanced kind of chemotherapy, a targeted therapy that is able to locate and attack cancer's specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment.
Finally, the last decade has seen the two disciplines join forces and work together to form a more comprehensive treatment for cancer, which combines cancer cell-centric therapy with host-centric therapy. The resultant immunochemotherapy is the combination of treating the immune system of the host along with additional treatments of chemotherapy, traditional radiotherapy, and surgery.
The concept of immunochemotherapy is fairly new, only in the last decade have studies begun to show its use in the effective treatment of various cancers. As it is studied further, further therapeutic applications will certainly have the potential to be developed.
The benefits of combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy and other complementary treatments are that cancer cells can be more effectively and comprehensively targeted, in addition to in some cases being able to alleviate symptoms of traditional chemo and radiotherapies through decreasing the required dosage (Reference: News Medical Life Sciences).
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