Your immune system is incredible, but cancer is a worthy adversary. As your immune system works to remove viruses, bacteria and other invaders from your body, cancer cells can sneak by unnoticed. This is because the body doesn’t recognize them as enemies, instead allowing them to multiply and invade surrounding tissues.
Hope on the Horizon: Immunotherapy for Treating Cancer
Conventional cancer treatments, such as radiation, damage both healthy and unhealthy cells, often causing unpleasant side effects for the patient. This isn’t to say that these treatments are no longer used. In the right circumstances, they can still be beneficial for fighting certain types of cancer. However, researchers are constantly looking for more effective cancer treatments that offer less side-effects.
Since a cancer cell will go unnoticed by the immune system, something needs to blow its cover. A new type of immunotherapy known as checkpoint inhibition is showing promise. The treatment works by changing the way the immune system interacts with cancer cells, effectively alerting the white blood cells that cancer is nearby. It’s the equivalent of removing a costume from a criminal in disguise, exposing him to the nearby police and guaranteeing his arrest.
Big Challenges: When and Why Immunotherapy Doesn’t Work
Checkpoint inhibition is showing incredible promise, but it unfortunately, further research is still needed before it can be called an effective cancer cure. Researchers are exploring a number of possible reasons that certain patients may not respond.
White blood cells, also known as T-cells, work to protect the entire body. If a patient is unresponsive to checkpoint inhibition, their T-cells might be busy elsewhere. This scenario is known as T-cell exhaustion. Other methods for stimulating T-cell activity are currently being explored. Genomic mutations have also been found to play a role in making certain patients resistant to immunotherapy drugs.
A Comprehensive Approach: Staying Nourished During Cancer Treatments
Up to 80 percent of patients receiving multiple cancer treatments, such as surgeries and chemotherapy, experience unintentional weight loss. Healing from cancer requires an aggressive approach to treating the malignancy and a holistic approach to treating the body and mind. A healthy body requires a full range of the required nutrients on a regular basis, and a body fighting cancer needs even more.
The causes of malnutrition during cancer treatment include:
- Difficulty eating or keeping food down.
- Attempting strict diet changes without the supervision of your doctor.
- Stress, anxiety, depression or other emotional problems that can have a negative effect on appetite.
- Poor diet and deficiencies that existed before the cancer.
- Digestive abnormalities or metabolism changes due to the cancer itself, the cancer treatments or recovery from a surgery to remove the cancer.
Getting proper nutrition will give you a better chance of success. Patients who receive proper nutrition during their treatment protocols experience better digestion and protection against muscle and bone loss.
If you’re struggling to eat before, during or after your cancer treatments, be sure to talk to your doctor. Also speak with your doctor before starting any new diets. There is a lot of misinformation about “cancer cures” and “miracle diets” out there.
Rise and Conquer: Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America is a non-profit network of cancer treatment centers and hospitals across the United States. We promote a message of hope for cancer patients everywhere, acknowledging that every case of cancer is completely unique and deserves its own individual approach.
From helping patients gain access to advanced treatments to offering an integrative approach that includes diet, exercise and emotional well-being, Cancer Treatment Centers of America has been surrounding patients with loving support for more than 30 years. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us today. We can help you remain strong and hopeful during your fight.