By Luisa Nieves • 08 July 2020 • 16:20
One in four cancer patients who undergo immunotherapy treatment has a more effective and less toxic progress, likewise continues to have good outcome years after going into remission, as stated by Dr. Antonio Brugarolas, head of Cancer Platform at Quirónsalud Alicante and Torrevieja.
Clinical studies conducted over the past five years have shown the significant effect of immunotherapy on the survival of cancer patients and it is transforming the lives of many patients while opening the door to further research. As for which type of cancer, immunotherapy can be applied, Dr. Joseba Rebollo, a specialist from Cancer Platform at Quirónsalud Alicante and Torrevieja, explains that, although it can be applied to all types of tumours, it is head and neck, lung, bladder, kidney, breast, melanoma, skin cancer, liver cancer, lymphomas or leukaemias that are showing the best outcomes in the studies. “This benefit,” points out Dr. Rebollo, “has been observed in the metastatic stage and in many cases also in the early stage of these tumours, which has led to a high expectation that it can be introduced in earlier stages of the disease and increase the chances of cure.”
How does immunotherapy work?
Drugs used in immunotherapy are administered intravenously over repeated sessions every two or three weeks. “These drugs,” says Dr. Brugarolas, “are responsible for generating an immune system reaction against tumours leading to the destruction of tumours, this reaction does not occur naturally in cancer patients because the tumour prevents it.”
In addition to the immunotherapy drugs marketed by the industry, new specific immunotherapy treatments are being developed that use cells from the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. Dr. Juan José Mata, especialista en Inmunología Immunology specialist and head of the cancer cell immunotherapy programmes at Quirónsalud Torrevieja, explains that, “the patient’s immune system cells can be isolated and processed ex vivo, in specialised facilities called Clean Rooms to identify and specifically eliminate each patient’s tumour cells.”
As for the side effects of immunotherapy, it does not cause hair loss or develop sores, although it can sometimes cause an autoimmune disease syndrome. The clinical manifestations are easy to identify and treat, and generally immune treatments must be discontinued. “However, cellular treatments are significantly more complex and often produce an acute and rapid fever, lung or neurological condition due to a massive release of immunological substances,” adds Rebollo, “which require urgent specialised treatments.”
While immunotherapy is not the definitive solution against cancer, nor has it been proven that it can cure if administered on a standalone basis, “says the head of the Cancer Platform at Quirónsalud Alicante and Torrevieja, “it does increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy, certainly helps to cure many cancers and undoubtedly improves the quality of life of patients. What is truly essential is to have a multidisciplinary approach in cancer treatments and to understand that a single speciality does not cover the entire procedure, instead different departments must work with a patient simultaneously and permanently, collaborating with each other.”
Quirónsalud, safe hospitals against Covid-19
Quirónsalud hospitals have obtained the COVID-19 Safe Protocol certification by Applus+, after ensuring that both hospitals are protected and controlled areas adhering with the most demanding standards against the coronavirus pandemic, mitigating the risk of infection at their facilities to the maximum for both their personnel and patients.
To obtain this certification – which recognizes and certifies the work and commitment of both hospitals to fight Covid-19 – the management has strived to implement and monitor an Operational Plan to identify and control the risk of transmission of Covid-19. This plan is the result of an in-depth analysis of all the protocols, procedures and measures implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes Covid-19 disease to the minimum.
Owing to the various safety measures adopted against the spread of Covid-19, Quirónsalud hospitals are now able to provide regular care in all their medical and surgical specialities, as well as emergency and diagnostic tests, with the same levels of healthcare coverage prior to the pandemic.
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