Cancer is a disease in which cells grow at an unprecedented rate and can spread to any body part. Brain cancer is a disease that mostly affects kids and young adults. Cancer has long-term effects on the health of the patient. There are several different types of fatal brain and nervous system cancers. The reason behind the origin of cancer is not yet completely understood. However, major progress has been made over the years in the cancer research field. As a result, immunotherapy emerged as a new option for cancer treatment.
Wondering if immunotherapy is effective in brain cancers? Know it all here:
Effects of Brain Cancer on Patients
As the size of a cancer tumor grows, patients can feel various symptoms. As cancer grows, it becomes extremely painful, and the brain’s functioning gets affected, leading to long-term mental and physical issues. The pressure on the brain and the nervous system can alter the healthy functioning of the brain and adversely affect the nervous system. These symptoms include headaches, hearing issues, seizures, and vision loss. In rare cases, doctors use immunotherapy treatment for brain cancer.
Types of Brain Cancer
Many types of brain cancer are listed down, including meningiomas, astrocytomas, and gliomas showing adverse effects based on their type and origin. Cancers situated in the peripheral and central nervous system include neuroblastoma and ependymoma, which most commonly occur in kids under 5. Medulloblastoma begins in the region at the base of the skull known as the posterior fossa. Here are other types of brain cancers that are most commonly found in children:
- Glioma is the type of cancer that develops in the glial cells, whose main function is to protect and support the neurons.
- Astrocytoma also develops in the glial cells known as astrocytes. These star-shaped cells are responsible for cell repair and transportation of nutrients.
- Meningioma starts in the thin membranes known as meninges, covering the spinal cord and the brain.
- Neuroblastoma emerges in the primitive brain cells known as neuroblasts, generally found in a fetus or an embryo.
- Ependymoma starts in the ependymal cells lining the pathways of the cerebrospinal fluid.
- Medulloblastoma begins in the region at the base of the skull known as the posterior fossa.
- Glioblastoma, which develops from the astrocytes, is the most aggressive and threatening kind of brain cancer. The life span of Glioblastoma patients is very short. Only a small portion of patients can live for two years, and even less than 10% of the patients live for more than 5 years.
What Is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy emerged as a new treatment for cancer care that adopts a whole procedure to target the disease. Instead of targeting the tumor cells, the therapy focuses on an individual’s immune system. The treatment uses the patient’s immune system to target and kill the cancer cells. Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that proves to have given better results than traditional cancer treatment methods, such as radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy.
Is Immunotherapy Effective In The Treatment of Brain Cancer?
Immunotherapy for brain cancer treatment is not a very effective form of treatment. Brain cancer treatment uses surgeries, chemotherapies, and radiation therapy. Immunotherapy for brain cancer treatment so far has been less than successful. With immunotherapy, several restrictions emerge. The therapy focuses on the immune system, and the layer of molecules around the brain tumor protects them from getting detected by the immune system.
The most difficult challenge that prevents the treatment of brain tumors through immunotherapy is the barrier between the blood and the brain that protects the brain from any harmful substances.
Still, there is ongoing research in the cancer treatment field that combines several different treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy and continues to do clinical trials to get better results.
Uses Of Steroids In Brain Cancer
Steroids are produced naturally inside the body, but they can also be made artificially and used as an element in treating brain cancer. The treatment of brain cancer can lead to inflammation inside the brain. To reduce the swelling, doctors may use steroids. Steroids can also be used during the time of the surgery, radiation therapy, and even before and after.
Steroids & Their Negative Impacts on Immunotherapy
A new study suggests that immunotherapy drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors have been effective for treating some kinds of cancers such as lung cancer and melanoma but only in a few patients. However, these drugs were not effective against Immunotherapy on patients with brain tumors, including the most common type of brain tumor, glioblastoma.
Several studies suggest that the usage of steroid dexamethasone in treating certain symptoms of brain cancer may obstruct the effectiveness of the therapy. Several new studies and research back these up.
Why are Dexamethasone Steroids Used in Brain Cancer?
Dexamethasone is a very effective drug when it comes to coping with the symptoms of brain cancer. Brain cancer leads to several signs that can be very severe, including extreme weakness and headaches. This drug is a type of immune suppressor that also reduces inflammation. Experts say that it is the only kind of drug that can successfully lower the inflammatory reaction in the brain. Even though it is given to reduce inflammation in the brain for a short period, there are cases when the patient remains on the drug indefinitely.
What Are The Effective Treatments For Brain Cancer?
Immunotherapy treatment for brain cancer is possibly not the best choice, but doctors recommend traditional brain cancer treatments. The treatment for brain cancer depends on what type of tumor is present, its location, and the tumor’s size. Apart from this, the patient’s preference and overall health condition are also considered. Here are some of the most effective cancer treatments that are being used commonly:
Chemotherapy is the kind of treatment in which drugs are used to kill the tumor cells. The drugs are injected through veins or are taken orally in the form of pills. Temozolomide is the most common type of drug used in chemotherapy, but it can differ based on its type.
The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the amount of prescribed dosage, which can cause excessive hair fall, nausea, or even vomiting.
The most common type of treatment for brain cancer is surgery. Surgery cannot be done in every kind of cancer; it depends on the tumor’s placement in the brain. The doctors do not assure that the whole tumor will be removed during surgery, but they can remove most of it without putting the patient’s life in danger.
Removal of brain tumors through surgery has its own risks that include bleeding and infection. The placement of a tumor near any important nerve attached to the eye can also carry a risk of vision loss.
Targeted Drug Treatment
This treatment focuses on certain problematic aspects of brain cancer cells. By obstruction of these difficult aspects, the cancer cells will eventually die. This treatment is only possible in some kinds of brain tumors, but many more clinical trials are underway.
High-energy radiation beams are used in this therapy to kill all cancer cells. Radiation therapy is a form of treatment that uses external methods such as X-rays or protons to treat the tumor. In some rare cases, the radiation is placed inside the body, near the cancer cells. Side effects depend on the dose of radiation. After radiation therapy, the more common side effects include memory loss, fatigue, and headaches.
At the University Cancer Center, we offer excellent support and personalized treatment suited to every patient’s needs. We approach cancer treatment in a very scientific and organized manner to provide you with the best possible treatment. You can go to our website to learn more about the cancer treatment facilities we provide.