Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma

It took me a while to put this together and finally talk about it. My aunt passed away few years ago due to breast cancer. When she knew it, she was at the 3rd stage already. WHY must it be her? WHY so unfair? WHY did we fail to detect it earlier? They told us to be strong… you know it is easy to say but really hard to be. We did whatever we could, she was strong but not me. At last, we lost her. Continue to read if you want to know about immunotherapy, a new treatment option for lung cancer and melanoma.
Ever since she passed away, my family and I began to take more initiative to get to know about cancer, lead a healthier lifestyle and attend regular health check-ups. Always remember that early detection saves lives. Don’t take life for granted and prevention is better than cure.
Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma
At the Lung Cancer & Melanoma Workshop
After attending the Lung Cancer & Melanoma Workshop by MSD and an insightful presentation by Dr Tho Lye Mun, Clinical Oncologist; I learnt that 15% to 20% of the population in Malaysia is at risk of getting cancer, which is about 1 out of 5. Guess what??? Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world and kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancer. 10 Malaysians die of lung cancer daily, and 9 out of 10 lung cancer patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage. That’s scary!
 
Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma
The Lung Cancer & Melanoma Workshop organized by MSD Malaysia
 
Lung Cancer: Types, Causes and Symptoms
First and foremost, let’s get to know lung cancer. There are two main types of lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer and about 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC.
Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and is the reason for at least 80% of lung cancer deaths. Second hand smoke, air pollution and family history of lung cancer are also risk factors. Usually the symptoms experienced are chest pain, persistent cough, shortness of breath, lethargy and weight loss with no causes.
 
Melanoma: Causes and Symptoms
Are you aware that over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major factor for melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer? It begins in the skin’s pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). Melanoma can also develop on other parts of the body, including the eyes, digestive tract, nails, and mouth. 
 
Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma
Dr Tho Lye Mun, Consultant Clinical Oncologist sharing insights on both lung cancer and melanoma with us
 
Cancer Treatment Options
The treatment options are crucial when a person is diagnosed with cancer. According to Dr Tho, there are a few types of treatment one can choose from such as surgery, radiation therapy or radiosurgery, chemotherapy, targeted agents and immunotherapy.
 
Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma
What is Immunotherapy? As we know, many diseases can attack our health when our immune system is weak. Therefore, immunotherapy is a treatment method that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This treatment has become an important part of treating cancer and holds a greater potential to fight cancer than the conventional treatment.
 
How does immunotherapy work? Immunotherapy is an entirely different way of treating cancer. It works by targeting the immune system, not the tumor itself. The main types of immuno-oncology therapy include:
(a) Monoclonal antibodies: These are man-­made versions of immune system proteins; antibodies can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell.
(b) Cancer vaccines: Substances introduced into the body to cause an immune response against certain diseases.
(c) Non-specific immunotherapies: Treatments that boost the immune system in a general way, which can help the immune system attack cancer cells.
Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma
Getting to know about Immunotherapy; a New Treatment for Lung Cancer and Melanoma 
What are the benefits of immunotherapy?Here are some of the benefits of immunotherapy treatment. The most important factor is there is a greater potential of increasing long-term survival of cancer patients with fewer side effects plus durable responses. The side effects of immunotherapy are flu-like symptoms, fatigue, rashes, fever and drop in blood pressure compared to other conventional cancer treatments that are more acute.
 
Overall, immunotherapy is a new way to fight cancer with greater potential while reducing the patient’s severe symptoms. This helps improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Thanks to MSD for organizing such an informative workshop about lung cancer, melanoma and immunotherapy. 
 
Immunotherapy; a New Treatment Option for Lung Cancer and Melanoma
Group Photo: Lung Cancer & Melanoma Workshop
Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world and 10 Malaysians die of lung cancer daily. I’d like to urge you to please stop smoking and avoid being exposed to second hand smoke because it can cause lung cancer too. Early detection saves lives and prevention is better than cure. So, remember to go for your regular health check-up and lead a healthy lifestyle.
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