Mujerhoy Cancer Care: Immunotherapy, the great hope against lung cancer

Science does not stop researching to develop and perfect therapies that fight tumors without being invasive. With this philosophy, the application of immunotherapy in different tumors has been investigated for more than a decade, as has been demonstrated in the informative conference organized by MujerHoy, in collaboration with MD Anderson, La Roche Posay and Bristol Meyer Squibb.

Lung cancer is the most common in the world. In Spain they are detected nearly 30,000 new cases each year and its incidence continues to grow. As review Noemi Reguart, oncologist at Hospital Clinic de BarcelonaIt is alarming that it is increasing in women in our country: “In the last five years the incidence has risen by 5-6% in this segment of the population, and so has its mortality, by 2%. And it is very worrying that there are 9% of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 who smoke ”.

Because the smoking -As you remember Pilar López Criado, Head of the Lung, Head and Neck Tumors and Melanoma Section at MD Anderson– is the main cause of this tumor. "It is the trigger in most cases, although environmental pollution it can undoubtedly increase the amount of pathology associated with smoking, such as vascular disease, cancer, etc. In addition, there is usually a correlation between smoking and unhealthy habits in terms of diet and physical exercise. We must become aware of all this ”.

And not only that: “The more exposure there is to these factors, the more difficult it will be for our system to repair all injuries and it will end up failing and cancer will appear. Do not forget that genetic predisposition to lung cancer is not very relevantThey do not even reach 3% of the total ”, Reguart points out.

In fact, around 50% it is detected in advanced ages and in women, in addition, this diagnosis is later. According to Ana Beatriz Sánchez Heras, coordinator of SEOM's Family and Hereditary Cancer Section, “this may be due to the stigmatization that there is regarding this habit, which makes the patient feel guilty for not taking care of herself. And the problem is that early diagnosis in this tumor is difficult, because when a symptom appears the cancer is already important ”.

In any case, over the years detection systems have also evolved and improved, which are replacing the traditional chest plate with more effective systems, such as low-dose CT. Likewise, new treatments are also being adopted, among which immunotherapy stands out.

“This therapy addresses the disease from the point of view of defensive system of the person. And although we have more than 10 years of experience in its application in lung cancer, the field that is opening is very large, we have to refine in many aspects. We begin by seeing that applied in treatments in advanced stages we achieved results that we had not seen before and with little toxicity. Unfortunately, the immune response markers are not very fine yet, but it is a reality and a very good option, not only in advanced phases, but also in early stages. But it is important to emphasize that it cannot be applied to all people and that it is not without problems either, ”clarifies López Criado.

All in all, it poses a promising future. Inmaculada Escriche, patient and member of AEacAP (Spanish Association of People Affected by Lung Cancer), is a case of success: “I was detected lung cancer at an advanced stage and they gave me a life expectancy of just four months. But nevertheless, I was able to enter an immunotherapy trialI have already been 66 sessions and four years later I am still here. This is the best proof that it is necessary to bet on research ”.

Something shared by Noemi Reguart, who points out that this is a widely tested drug in Spain, with the same applications as in the rest of the world. “In addition, it is covered by public health in the treatment of lung cancer. Another thing is that the oncologist considers that he is not the ideal patient to receive it. Do not raise false hopes, but I foresee that in the next five years we will give it to patients even after surgery, I believe that immunotherapy will be introduced in all stages of cancer. In any case, chemotherapy also works in lung cancer, but it is toxic, as it destroys malignant cells and healthy cells. I don't think it will go away, but immunology is getting long survivals in metastatic and localized diseases. This cancer cannot be cured, but if we manage to make it chronic and for the patient to have a good quality of life it would be great news ”.

As Sánchez Heras concludes, “it is being applied to other tumors and it is the great hope that exists in precision medicine, because it is what any oncologist wants, that the patient's body that fights against his own disease and that the secondary effects do not outweigh the benefit ”.