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Naturopathic Medicine Blog

Non small cell lung cancer : role of the immune system

Posted Jun 22nd, 2019 in Naturopathic Medicine, News, Tips

Non small cell lung cancer : role of the immune system

The magnitude of the problem in Canada

Almost 29,000 new cases of lung cancer are  diagnosed each year in Canada ( Canadian Cancer Society statistics updated as of June  2019    https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/lung/statistics/?region=pe   

As many as 21000 Canadians die each from the same disease. On average, 78 Canadians are diagnosed with lung cancer every day, and 58 die every day from this deadly disease. 

What are the emerging therapies for Lung Cancer as of 2019?

The Role of the Immune System in managing and treating Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer has been heavily studied in the last decade. 

According to the latest research in oncology published by Zhang et al 2019 in the Journal Hematology Oncology published in April 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482588/   

Tyrosine Kinase inhibitors and immune therapy are the two most recently discovered effective therapies for non-small cell lung cancer. Tyrosine Kinase inhibitors were originally discovered for the last 15 years and showed a limited response and survival advantage for patients with lung cancer, examples of recently discovered tyrosine kinase inhibitors are Ceritinib (crizotinib),  Poziotinib,  Osimeritinib, and Loratinib.

Immune therapy was the breakthrough in managing nonsmall cell lung cancer. Immune therapy is based on checkpoint inhibition which means that these agents make cancer cells more visible and vulnerable to the immune system of the body (such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes), such as Pembrolizumab, nivolumab, and atezolizumab.

The concept of enhancing the ability of the immune system to fight cancer cells is a recent approach to treating cancer, and in many oncology centers in the world, this line of treatment started to take over the traditional chemotherapy used for decades for treating lung cancer such as cisplatin, taxol, and Gemcitabine with all anticipated toxicities and limited treatment results.

Can we do more for patients with lung cancer?

The simple answer to this question is YES. Although we are living with a plethora of new biological agents and target therapies for lung cancer with less toxic effects as compared to the standard chemotherapies, the overall survival and disease-free survival rates are still to be improved.

Supporting the immune system can be achieved by many other means such as taking an adequate amount of vitamin D3, adequate water intake, and natural antioxidants found in the brassica family of foods. Natural immune boosters include Mistletoe or Hellixor which can be given intravenously or subcutaneously. 

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