LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 9pm

A New Cancer Treatment Could Replace Chemotherapy And Its Painful Side Effects In 10 Years

 Filepic: Getty ImagesFilepic: Getty Images

Mention chemotherapy and most of us will cringe in horror at the thought of the dreaded side effects of this standard medical treatment for cancer.

However, a new treatment without involving debilitating chemotherapy is on the horizon.

According to a University of Hong Kong medical expert, this new therapy that kills cancer cells by boosting the body’s immune system is now undergoing human clinical trials and could well replace chemotherapy within a decade.

Thomas Yau Chung-cheung, clinical associate professor at Hong Kong University, shared the progress of 200 cancer patients in the city who are undergoing this new immunotherapy treatment and professed that “most saw good results”, even in would-be terminal cases, South China Morning Post reports.

“The development of immunotherapy is now the new trend in cancer care. It is likely to replace chemo gradually and become the cornerstone of treating tumours.

“So far the patients who are suitable for immunotherapy are seeing good results, and it can even treat cancer patients in the late stages. But of course we still need time to observe the long-term safety of the drugs,” Yau said.

He added that researchers aim to publish their findings after treating 500 patient cases targeting cancer cells in the lungs, kidneys, skin, head and neck, as well as ­leukaemia and melanomas.

Filepic: AlamyFilepic: Alamy

According to Yau, immunotherapy uses medicines to stimulate the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells and has surprisingly few side-effects – usually flu-like symptoms or a fever. Treatment costs are about HK$20,000 to HK$40,000 (RM10,864 to RM21,729) a month.

Immunotherapy was hailed as a global medical breakthrough three years ago and global pharmaceutical companies have been racing to be the first to offer this alternative to painful chemotherapy.

Last year, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers announced breakthrough in a drug approved as alternative to chemotherapy for people with advanced lung cancer.

Pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy drug that was extensively evaluated by UCLA cancer researcher Dr. Edward Garon, has been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC, Science Daily reported.

- mD