Types of Immunotherapy
Different types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer. These treatments can either help the immune system attack the cancer directly or stimulate the immune system in a more general way. Types of immunotherapy that help the immune system act directly against the cancer include:
- Checkpoint inhibitors, they are the type of drugs that help the immune system respond more aggressively to a tumour. These drugs function by not targeting the tumour directly, but they interfere with the ability of cancer cells to avoid immune system attack.
- Adoptive cell transfer is a type of immunotherapy treatment that aids in enhancing the natural ability of your T cells to fight cancer. In this treatment, T cells are derived from the tumor developed. These T- cells are most potent in killing your cancer and these T- cells are further developed in huge amounts in the lab. These developed can further be utilized in killing the tumour cells.
- Monoclonal antibodies, also known as therapeutic antibodies, which are immune system proteins created in the lab. These antibodies are designed to attach to specific targets found on cancer cells. Some monoclonal antibodies mark cancer cells so that they will be better seen and destroyed by the immune system. Other monoclonal antibodies directly stop cancer cells from growing or cause them to self-destruct. Still others carry toxins to cancer cells. Because therapeutic monoclonal antibodies recognize specific proteins on cancer cells, they are also considered targeted therapies.
- Treatment vaccines, which work against cancer by boosting your immune system’s response to cancer cells. Treatment vaccines are different from the ones that help prevent disease
Types of immunotherapy that enhance the body’s immune response to fight the cancer include:
- Cytokines, which are proteins made by your body’s cells. They play important roles in the body’s normal immune responses and also in the immune system’s ability to respond to cancer. The two main types of cytokines used to treat cancer are called interferons and interleukins
- BCG, which stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, is an immunotherapy that is used to treat bladder cancer. It is a weakened form of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. When inserted directly into the bladder with a catheter, BCG causes an immune response against cancer cells. It is also being studied in other types of cancer.
How does Immunotherapy work against Cancer?
Cancer destroys your body because it primarily hits your immune system. Certain immunotherapies target cancer cells and afterward kill them. Other immunotherapies your help in boosting your immune system in a way that it destroys the cancer cells. Immunotherapy a new cancer treatment Immunotherapy is not yet as widely used as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, immunotherapies are slowly gaining importance and is been widely accepted as a treatment choice by many of the doctors.
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A Cancer diagnosis is dreaded and feared yet rarely understood. Even as cancer cases in India and across the world are poised to grow, there continues to be a sense of mystery around it with very little understanding of the causes and cures for an ailment commonly referred to as the Big ‘C.’ A cancer diagnosis is typically followed by intense periods of anxiety, stress, and fear for the patient as well as a caregiver. Cancer fighters recall feelings of shock followed by anger and denial when their cancer is first discovered mostly because of the myths surrounding it.
The questions abound and range from “How can this happen to me?” to “I don’t have any bad habits so why me?” and is inevitably followed by that looming unspoken query, “Can I survive this?” While these questions besiege patients and caregiver, Doctors, Oncologists and Cancer support groups reassure us that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Given the right circumstances, one can control and even conquer Cancer. Accurate information and a better understanding about Cancer will certainly help reduce negativity around it so that it can be treated like other health conditions. ‘Cancer fighters’ and ‘Cancer thrivers’ have shared their journey with us in the course of this research and echoed the importance of the right information and a stress-free frame of mind to get through the long drawn treatment and overcome the Big ‘C’.
Did You Know?
The Greek word ‘Oncos’ and ‘Carcinos’ are attributed to Hippocrates and refer to a ‘benign swelling’ and a ‘malignant swelling’ respectively.
What is Cancer?
Cancer, a word surrounded by much fear and plenty of uncertainty, refers to an uncontrolled growth of cells that invade and damage normal tissue. These cells may form a mass called ‘tumor’ which could be malignant or benign. A malignant tumor grows and spreads to other parts of the body while a benign tumor could grow but won’t spread.
Signs and Symptoms
Cancer typically distorts normal organs, nerves and blood vessels causing symptoms related to that specific body part. One of the first places that cancer spreads is the lymph nodes – those bean-shaped organs located in clusters in the neck, groin and under the arms.
Though generalized symptoms like fever, fatigue and weight loss are common in cancers that have spread beyond their site of origin it is the size and aggressiveness of cancer that determines its symptoms.
Types of Cancer
- Carcinomas – These are the most common type of cancer and begin in the skin or the tissue that covers the surface of internal organs and glands. Carcinomas usually form solid tumors.
- Sarcomas – These begin in the tissues that support and connect the body. A sarcoma can develop in fat, muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage, or bone.
- Leukemia – These are cancer of the blood and begin when healthy blood cells change and grow uncontrollably.
- Lymphomas – This is cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands that help fight infection.
Even though over 75 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 55 or older, increased age alone is not a risk factor for cancer. Statistics show that 5 to 10 percent of cancers are genetically inherited and those cancers tend to occur earlier in life.
Risk factors could include genetics (the BRCA genes, for example) lifestyle (such as smoking, diet, and sun-tanning), environmental exposures or the presence of harmful substances. Viral and bacterial infections also lead to certain cancers, such as the hepatitis virus in liver cancer, Helicobacter pylori in stomach cancer and the HPV virus in cervical cancer.
Stages of Cancer
Stage 0: Cancers at this stage are identified according to the location where they initially emerged and multiplied with the resulting tumor not have spread to nearby tissues. The prognosis for Stage 0 cancer is very good and boosting the immune system may reverse cancer.
Stage 1: Small cancerous tumors may have spread to nearby tissue but not beyond, such as the bloodstream or lymph system. “Early stage” cancer prognosis is also quite good with healthy changes preventing its return.
Stage 2 and 3: “Regional spread” indicates that cancer has expanded and embedded into the surrounding tissue. Even though this stage may cause concern, cancer has not spread to other organs in the body.
Stage 4: When cancer spreads from the initial site to other organs or areas of the body, it is referred to as “distant spread” cancer, advanced cancer, or metastatic cancer. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer cells from the place where they first formed to another part of the body.
Did You Know?
While there is so much fear associated with Cancer, the statistics are not completely hopeless.
1. Nearly 70% of people diagnosed with cancer all over the world live for more than five years.
2. Over 85% of cases of childhood cancer are curable.
3. Even the most resistant cancers, like melanoma, respond to immune-modulating treatments.
Cancer survivors often battle stigma that can be removed through awareness. Noted oncologist Dr Amish Vora of HOPE Oncology clinic in New Delhi cautions against ‘Cancerism’ which is worse than racism and sexism as it is tough to pinpoint. “Cancer is not infectious yet people avoid those who are diagnosed with it and patients often find it difficult to socialize. They may be discriminated against during job interviews or even in relationships,” explains Vora.
According to the World Health Organization, the most common types of cancer that kill men in order of frequency are lung cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer and oesophageal cancer. WHO statistics say that the five most common cancers that kill women in order of frequency are breast cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer. According to Specialist Oncologist Dr (Col.) R Ranga Rao, 17 lakh new patients are being diagnosed with cancer every year in India which ranks 3rd in cancer cases after China and the US. The data from National Institute of Cancer Prevention Research (NICPR) reports that for every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it in the country, and almost half million deaths happen due to ignorance about the disease. One woman dies of cervical cancer every 8 minutes in India. Nearly one-third of cancers are caused due to tobacco use while alcohol and tobacco together pose higher risks of developing oral and other cancers.
Globocan’s worldwide data states says that there were 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths, and 32.6 million people living with cancer within 5 years of diagnosis in 2012. 57% (8 million) of those new cancer cases, 65% (5.3 million) of the cancer deaths, and 48% (15.6 million) of the 5-year prevalent cancer cases occurred in the less developed regions. The overall age-standardized cancer incidence rate is almost 25% higher in men than in women with rates of 205 and 165 cases per 100 000 person-years, respectively.
Anti Cancer Diet
Food has an important link to diseases and the focus on building immunity to prevent or to fight cancer (during Chemotherapy) has resulted in research into plant-based diets that seem to help prevent cancer. Some plant chemicals fight cancer cells directly, while others promote a healthy immune system to reduce cancer risk. Fruits, vegetables, chocolate, tea, and wine are considered beneficial as they contain polyphenols. Spices and herbs rich with flavonoids and carotenoids also reduce oxidation and inflammation thus providing multiple benefits.
To read more on Cancer, click on the link below,
Silver Years- Physical/Mental/Emotional Well Being
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if proper health care measures are taken after 65 years of age ,one can live for an another 19.3 years.
According to Jeanne Wei, MD, PhD, executive director of the Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, people who adopt healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking and losing weight, can help you avoid age related health risks.
Here is a list of some diseases associated with old age:
According to CDC 49.7 percent of elderly suffer from arthritis. Elderly mostly suffer from painful condition called osteoarthritis, which is painful and limits mobility in elderly.
2. Heart Disease
Elderly with risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that increase the chances of have a high tendency of developing cardiovascular diseases like stroke. Eating well balanced and frequent meals along with exercise can prevent elderly from the heart related disorders.
As per the CDC reports, 28 percent of men and 21 percent of women over age 65 are living with cancer. Hence regular checkups like mammograms, colonoscopies, and skin checks can prevent different type of cancers.
4. Respiratory Diseases
CDC has reported that chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are the third most common cause of death among people 65 and older. Elderly suffer from chronic respiratory infections such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema. These problems can make elderly to easily fall for conditions like pneumonia. Early checks can prevent the pneumonia in elderly.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease
As per the Alzheimer’s Association, one in nine people age 65 and older, which is about 11 percent, have Alzheimer’s disease, but because diagnosis is challenging, it’s difficult to know exactly how many people are living with this chronic condition. Diagnosing this disease at an early stage can help to deal with it an early stage.
Osteoporosis is also an age-related problem in elderly, especially in women. Osteoporosis can contribute towards less mobility and a deranged stature in elderly.
According to CDC 25 percent of people ages 65 and older are living with diabetes. It is necessary to check for pre diabetes conditions and monitoring blood sugar levels can help to control the disease.
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
According to the CDC ,flu and pneumonia infections are among the top eight causes of death in people over age 65. Seniors are more vulnerable to these diseases and less able to fight them off. Vaccination can prevent elderly to fall for these infections .
As per the CDC repots, 2.5 million people ages 65 and older are treated in emergency departments because of falls. Elderly should walk carefully and should refrain from using slippery bath rooms.
Obesity is an important senior health risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It also decreases the motility in elderly leading to various complications such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
According to CDC many elderly suffer from depression. Support from friends and family and increased social interaction can prevent depression in elderly.
12. Oral Health
Oral health becomes compromised in elderly due to functional and physiological changes. Elderly are advised to visit dentist after every 6 months for a regular assessment. Dentures and oral rehabilitation measures are taken by the dentists to restore the dental health in elderly.
According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of three people over 60 will get shingles. People who suffer from chicken pox in childhood uaually encounter shingles as they grow with age. A good immune system and good health status helps elderly to recover from shingles at a faster pace.
Palliative care, also called comfort care, supportive care and symptom management can improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. It is helpful for patients and their loved ones to make the transition from treatment meant to cure or control the disease to hospice care by preparing them for physical changes that may occur near the end of life. It also helps them cope with the different thoughts and emotional issues that arise and provide support for family members. Palliative care specialists also provide caregiver support, facilitate communication among members of the healthcare team, and help with discussions focusing on goals of care for the patient.
To read more on Cancer, click on the link below,
Grief is a person’s emotional response to the experience of loss while bereavement is the state of having experienced a loss. Reactions to loss are called grief reactions. Common grief reactions include difficult feelings, thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviors. People who have experienced loss may have a range of feelings. This could include shock, numbness, sadness, denial, despair, anxiety, anger, guilt, loneliness, depression, helplessness, relief, and yearning.
Common thought patterns include disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, preoccupation, and hallucinations. Grief can cause physical sensations. These include tightness or heaviness in the chest or throat, nausea or an upset stomach, dizziness, headaches, physical numbness, muscle weakness or tension, and fatigue. It may also make you vulnerable to illness. A person who is grieving may struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep and even lose energy for enjoyable activities.
The stages of mourning include acceptance of the reality of the loss, going through the pain of grief. Adjusting to life without the person being physically present and finding new ways to remain connected to the person who has died. The grieving process is often harder when the person has unresolved feelings towards or conflicts with the person who has died.
The year after the death of a loved one is very emotional. Mental health experts suggest waiting at least a year before making any major decisions, such as moving or changing jobs. Consider making a list of decisions and tasks, and figure out which ones must be completed immediately. Try to hold off on the important decisions that can wait. Anniversaries, birthdays and festive occasions can be very difficult, particularly during the first year. With time, these feelings will often get less intense. You may find it helpful to do something special to mark an anniversary,birthday or make time for a celebration to remember your relative or friend.
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Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia
What are the factors that play a role in eating disorders?
- With the growth of social media, eating disorders are a common issue these days.
- Eating disorders can affect people at any age but teenagers, especially girls, tend to get very obsessed with their appearance to look like their idols; and some might develop eating disorders.
- Certain factors, like a genetic tendency or a disturbed family environment, might play a role in developing eating disorders.
What happens in Anorexia Nervosa?
- Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder in which the affected person avoids eating to be thin.
- Generally, people affected with anorexia are underweight and they avoid certain food groups or exercise excessively to stay thin.
- It is a serious form of an eating disorder and it can lead to death due to excessive starvation or even suicide.
- A person affected with anorexia for a long period of time might have issues like constipation, brittle nails, dry hair and thinning of the muscles.
What happens in bulimia?
- In bulimia, the affected person has bouts of excess eating which the person is unable to control.
- These binges are followed by purging, either as vomiting or by the use of laxatives.
- Such people tend to maintain a normal body weight.
- They are prone to heart and kidney problems as the purging disturbs the electrolyte balance of the body.
Why is it important to detect and treat eating disorders?
- These disorders need to be detected and managed early as they even be fatal.
- Detecting an eating disorder in a loved one can help in early intervention which can even save their lives.
How can one detect an eating disorder?
There are some telltale signs that can help in detecting these conditions.
- A person affected with anorexia might feel excessively cold and wear multiple layers of clothing.
- The person might avoid eating in public or be very picky about food.
- A person affected with an eating disorder might complain about being fat, even though underweight.
- In the case of bulimia, there may be signs of excess eating in the form of used wrappers and food containers.
- Sometimes, the smell of vomit is a giveaway.
- People affected by bulimia tend to develop callouses on their hands due to vomiting.
Signs & Symptoms of an Eating Disorder
A man or woman suffering from an eating disorder may reveal several signs and symptoms, some which are:
- Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight
- Constant weight fluctuations
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
- Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food
- Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from partaking
- Depression or lethargic stage
- Avoidance of social functions, family, and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn
- Switching between periods of overeating and fasting
How is an eating disorder managed?
- Once detected, it is very important to take a sympathetic approach to eating disorders as the affected person might be emotionally labile and embarrassed about the condition.
- There is a need to treat these conditions by using a combined approach of family counselling, behavior modification therapy and medications.
- The family’s involvement is very important.
- In anorexia, monitoring the person’s food intake by a family member is quite helpful in treating the condition.
- Cognitive behavior therapy and counselling to deal with any emotional problems is equally important as sometimes eating disorders are due to a person’s inability to deal with some emotional trauma.
- Medical treatment is prescribed a doctor and might include anti- depressants and mood elevating medicines.
- The doctor might also evaluate the affected person with blood counts and a check for their kidney, heart and liver functions.
Can eating disorders be prevented?
It is possible to prevent eating disorders by following these simple measures
- Promoting a healthy lifestyle in children
- Regulating the impact of social media on young minds can help in preventing eating disorders
- Speaking to children regularly on the importance of a healthy body image
- Inculcating the habit of volunteering and social service can help in changing children’s perspective and promote a healthier outlook.
Why is it important to have a healthy diet?
- A well balanced diet can help in preventing obesity, reduce diseases like arthritis, heart diseases, type two diabetes, certain cancers and also prevent mood swings.
- Our diet also provides certain vital nutrients likevitamins and minerals which are required in small quantities for good health.Lack of minerals like iron can cause anaemia. Lack of vitamins can cause diseases like night blindness, weakness of bones, bleeding problems and nerve pains.
What are the essentials of a good diet?
- A good diet should provide energy in the form of calories. These depend on lifestyle and gender. Most women need between 1500-2000 Kcal per day and men might require 2500-3500 Kcal per day.
- A well balanced diet should consist of protein (meat, eggs, legumes), carbohydrates (bread, cereal, potato), fats (oils, butter) as well as minerals (milk, meat, green leafy vegetables), vitamins (fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs) and water.
How can I prevent food indiscipline?
Keeping in mind some simple lifestyle habits can help in avoiding food indiscipline.
- Avoid temptation- Avoid keeping junk food like chips and colas at home. That way, even if temptation strikes, you’ll be forced to choose healthier options like fresh fruits and salads.
- Stock up on fresh produce and cook from scratch at home- Making food from scratch at home and carrying the same as lunch to office or school helps to develop the taste of fresh food. It is also healthier as you can avoid harmful preservatives in tinned and canned foods, like nitrates and excess salt.
- Keep water at hand- Many a time, we mistake thirst for hunger pangs or food cravings. Keeping a glass of water handy can help us remember to keep sipping through the day.
- Avoid excess dieting- Many people indulge in crash dieting or avoid food groups. This can be unhealthy in the long run. It’s best to have a balanced diet with all food groups in moderation. One can avoid fried foods and keep a check on portion sizes to control weight.
- Healthy plating- A healthy plate should have protein like meat, fish, eggs or pulses on one fourth, one fourth should have whole grains and the balance should have healthy salads with low calorie dressings like olive oil or lemon.
- Keep one meal as a cheat meal every week- This helps to prevent bingeing through the week.
- Shop healthy- It’s always better to avoid food shopping if you’re hungry- you’ll be more likely to buy unhealthy foods. Plan your meals in advance, make a grocery list and shop accordingly. This way you’ll always have the ingredients for healthy meals at hand and there will be enough variety to avoid boredom
- Use technology- There are many smart devices that can help to make food tastier and healthier. From air fryers to popcorn makers, technology can help in preparing healthy, delicious meals.
- Indulge in healthy snacking- The urge to snack between meals is commonly seen in children. Keep carrot sticks, fruits and popcorn along with lemonade ready to avoid unhealthy snacking.
- Eating out- To avoid bingeing at parties and while eating out, have a light snack, like soup or a salad, before attending the event. Opt for roasted and grilled food along with healthy salads and choose fruits for dessert.
- Correct storage of food is also important. It’s always advisable to refrigerate perishables like milk, eggs and freeze meats as these can otherwise transmit bacteria that cause food poisoning.
“It is a myth that cancer is just a health issue”; says the World Cancer Day website run by the Union for International Cancer Control. “Cancer negatively impacts families; ability to earn an income, with high treatment costs pushing them further into poverty”
The Indian Government’s National Cancer Control Programme, estimates that there are between 2 and 2.5 million cancer patients in the country at any given point of time. As per a BCG study in 2010, as opposed to the 200 cancer centers in existence, India needed at least 840. It is estimated that India has only 2000 oncologists while it needs thrice as many. It is obvious that a shortage of doctors will take its toll on the number of hospitals offering cancer care. Setting up a fully-fledged cancer hospital is capital-intensive – a 100-bed hospital in a city could reportedly cost as much as Rs 50 crore. And human resources, from doctors to nurses to technicians are also a
Cancer treatment runs into lakhs of rupees especially when the disease is detected in advanced stages requiring surgery or extensive treatment. By one estimate, over 45 percent of families with one cancer patient face catastrophic expenditures and 25 percent are pushed below the poverty line (BPL). Medical insurance is the only way one can cope with mounting expenses and since India has not seen too much investment in health, it is a long road ahead.
To read more on Cancer, click on the link below,
Chemotherapy – Side effects & Cost
Chemotherapy is the most commonly used treatment for cancer and refers to drugs used for cancer treatment with the objectives of cure, control and palliation.
Most chemotherapy (chemo) drugs are strong medicines commonly given at regular intervals called cycles – which is a dose of one or more drugs followed by several days or weeks without treatment. This gives normal cells time to recover from drug side effects.
For maximum benefit, one must get the full course of chemo, the full dose and keep the cycles on schedule. In most cases, the most effective doses and schedules of drugs to treat specific cancers have been found by testing them in clinical trials.
Chemotherapy Side effects
While Chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells, they also damage healthy cells causing side effects. The time taken to get over some side effects varies from person to person and depends on your overall health and the drugs you were given. Many side effects go away fairly quickly after treatment ends, but some may take months to completely go away.
Some of the more common side effects of chemotherapy are fatigue, hair loss, anemia, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, sores and pain with swallowing. Hair loss is a common a side effect of chemo treatments but it is temporary with new hair growth beginning a few weeks after the final treatment.
Weight loss and a lack of energy are equally common making it necessary to continue eating healthy foods. Another common side effect of chemotherapy affects digestion and you might have a metallic taste in the mouth or a yellow or white coating on your tongue. The patient must avoid exposure to viruses, bacteria, and other germs as the immune system are weakened during Chemo.
Chemotherapy drugs may cause memory problems and make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. This symptom sometimes is called “chemo fog,” or “chemo brain.” Chemotherapy drugs may alter hormones and result in mood swings. Sexual function and fertility may also be impacted in some cases.
Living with cancer and dealing with chemotherapy could also take an emotional toll. Patients can be overwhelmed and even depressed as they juggle work, family, and financial responsibilities or cope with pain and discomfort.
Complementary therapies like massage and meditation can be a helpful solution for relaxation and relief. Cancer support group where you can speak with others undergoing cancer treatment is helpful but if feelings of depression persist, professional counseling may be required.
Chemotherapy Treatment Cost
“It is a myth that cancer is just a health issue," says the World Cancer Day website run by the Union for International Cancer Control. & Cancer negatively impacts families&39; ability to earn an income, with high treatment costs pushing them further into poverty”
The Indian Government’s National Cancer Control Programme estimates that there are between 2 and 2.5 million cancer patients in the country at any given point of time. As per a BCG study in 2010, as opposed to the 200 cancer centers in existence, India needed at least 840. It is estimated that India has only 2000 oncologists while it needs thrice as many. It is obvious that a shortage of doctors will take its toll on the number of hospitals offering cancer care. Setting up a fully-fledged cancer hospital is capital-intensive – a 100-bed hospital in a city could reportedly cost as much as Rs 50 crore. And human resources, from doctors to nurses to technicians are also a continuing challenge. Cancer treatment runs into lakhs of rupees especially when the disease is detected in advanced stages requiring surgery or extensive treatment. By one estimate, over 45per cent of families with one cancer patient face catastrophic expenditures and 25 percent are pushed below the poverty line (BPL). Medical insurance is the only way one can cope with mounting expenses and since India has not seen too much investment in health, it is a long road ahead.
To read more on Cancer, click on the link below,