Mesothelioma immunotherapy drugs are used in mesothelioma patients to bolster the patient’s immune system and force the individual’s body to attack cancerous cells. A healthy immune system is not able to fight cancerous cells because it cannot differentiate cancerous cells from normal ones. However, with the addition of immunotherapy drugs, the immune system is able to pinpoint the difference between cancer cells and health ones, thus starting the termination process of foreign bodies.
In addition to bolstering the immune system’s ability to recognize cancerous bodies, immunotherapy drugs are recommended by medical professionals in the fight against mesothelioma because they yield milder side effects than other mesothelioma treatment options, like chemotherapy. Some patients will only experience flu-like symptoms during the first cycle of immunotherapy drugs, but in general, this course of mesothelioma treatment will not impose any severe side effects.
Immunotherapy is regarded as an alternative mesothelioma treatment. Although given this classification, immunotherapy drugs are becoming more common to fight the deadly disease. Mesothelioma immunotherapy manipulates the patient’s immune system to aid in the cancer fight. There are three different forms of immunotherapy drugs for mesothelioma treatment:
Active Immunotherapy to Treat Mesothelioma Cancer:
Active Immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma cancer is designed to stimulate the patient’s immune system to combat the cancer. A vaccine is an example of active immunotherapy. Cancer vaccines are held separate from traditional or generic vaccines; for they are designed to combat cancerous cells that already exist in the body (traditional vaccines are administered to prevent disease).
A mesothelioma vaccine attempts to remove cancerous cells from the mesothelioma patient. The administration of a mesothelioma vaccine is typically achieved in a laboratory by utilizing whole cancer cells or antigens extracted from infected cells. The antigens or cells are modified by doctors to be recognized by the patient’s immune system.
Active immunotherapy treatments for mesothelioma cancer are specific treatment regimens made with cells from inside the patient’s body.
Passive Immunotherapy Treatment for Mesothelioma Cancer:
Passive mesothelioma treatments for cancer are those which utilize components outside of the body. These types of mesothelioma treatments differ from active immunotherapy treatment methods in that the passive regiment does not attempt to force the patient’s immune system to destroy cancerous bodies.
An example of a passive immunotherapy treatment method is monoclonal antibody therapy. Antibodies are molecules of the immune system that help fight infections and disease. In a normally-functioning immune system, antibodies are produced to recognize and adhere to foreign bodies present on foreign cells. This type of passive immunotherapy for mesothelioma cancer attempts to remove cancerous cells from a patient; the removed cells are grown in a lab with other cells that produce antibodies in response to the antigens located on the cancerous bodies. During the laboratory process, identical antibodies are produced to recognize the same antigen.
Following this stage of passive immunotherapy for mesothelioma patients, a doctor will inject the patient with monoclonal antibodies. When entering the body, the antibodies recognize and adhere to tumor cells (the tumor cells possess a particular kind of antigen that the antibodies were synthesized to identify). If the mesothelioma treatment is successful, the patient’s immune system will recognize the antibodies and destroy the cancerous cells. As is common with active immunotherapy for mesothelioma cancer, passive treatments are specific to the individual patient because cancerous bodies from the patient’s own system are used.
Non-Specific Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma Cancer:
Non-specific immunotherapy for mesothelioma cancer differs from the aforementioned types of immunotherapy in that they do not utilize the cancerous cells from the patient’s body. Instead, non-specific immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma cancer is primarily based on cytokines, which are molecules of the immune system. These bodies, in essence, control and direct the patient’s immune system. Cytokines enable different types of immune cells to communicate with each other; Cytokines are typically administered in tandem with other immunotherapy treatment regiments.
Photodynamic Mesothelioma Drugs:
Photodynamic mesothelioma therapy is a two-pronged mesothelioma treatment procedure which first uses a photosensitizing drug to make cancer cells susceptible to light. Following this, an oncologist will use light to destroy the cancerous bodies. For mesothelioma treatment, the light (photosensitizer) used is almost always a profimer sodium beam (Photofrin), which is also applied in other cancers.
Photodynamic therapy is currently being tested in pleural mesothelioma patients; the treatment regimen is found to improve mesothelioma survival times. This particular form of mesothelioma treatment is still undergoing tests and development for peritoneal mesothelioma cancer—doctors are still searching for an effective means to administer light to the abdominal cavity. Photodynamic mesothelioma treatment commonly yields light sensitivity side effects for roughly six weeks, which results in swelling, scarring or burning of the skin. Other side effects attached to this treatment regimen including: stomach pains, shortness of breath and persistent coughing.
Anti-Angiogenesis Mesothelioma Drugs:
Anti-angiogenesis drugs are a new class of medications that attempt to starve cancer cells (as oppose to killing them directly). These types of mesothelioma drugs are regarded as experimental, and despite yielding a different function, may still be classified as mesothelioma chemotherapy drugs. Bevacizumab, interleukin, interferons and other types of anti-angiogenesis mesothelioma drugs prevent the body’s veins from growing towards cancerous cells.
Anti-angiogenesis drugs target the body’s network of veins. Blood vessels provide nutrients to cancer cells; without these resources, cancer cells are unable to proliferate and divide. Mesothelioma patients who are administered anti-angiogenesis drugs will typically experience reduced side effects—the majority of problems associated with this treatment stem from the formation of new veins. Patients may also experience blood clots and excessive bleeding.