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Medical breakthroughs happen every day. Scientists are harnessing the power of your immune system to take on previously incurable diseases, like cancers. Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Chief Medical Officer for Pfizer, is here to explain some of these remarkable advancements.
Dr. Lewis-Hall says it's important to understand that cancer is not just ONE disease - it's hundreds. Right now we can manage and even cure some types of cancers, but there are other types that we simply don't understand yet.
What is cancer? Our body is made up of cells. Cancer is an abnormal growth of these cells, and cancer cells can spread by influencing the cells around it to behave in ways they normally would not.
One area of current cancer research looks to attack cancer by intervening at the cellular level - using our immune system. Our immune system is the body's defense mechanism designed to destroy foreign invaders. But cancer cells are so tricky that they start with your body's own cells and then disguise themselves so the immune system doesn’t recognize them as the enemy. To make matters worse, cancer cells also work to weaken your immune system. Cancer cells can also co-opt nearby normal cells to emit substances that weaken the immune system.
Dr. Lewis-Hall shares some of the advancements that are being made to help the immune system foil the invading cancer cells. She shares that immunotherapy is one of the new ways to fight cancer. Dr. Lewis-Hall warns that immunotherapy isn’t a magic bullet. It works better in some kinds of cancer than others. And it may work better in combination with other treatments for many cancers.
From precision medicine that targets specific genetic mutations to vaccines to prevent certain cancers, the science of fighting cancer is advancing rapidly. However, there’s still a long way to go. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, you should have frequent and ongoing conversations with your healthcare team because new treatments are often coming out.
You can visit www.GetHealthyStayHealthy.com to learn more about new cancer research and to search for a clinical trial.
Sponsored by Pfizer.