SOURCE: Rubio Cancer Center

Rubio Cancer Center

June 27, 2011 06:00 ET

Cancer Immunotherapy Has Come of Age

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - Jun 27, 2011) - The use of immunotherapy to fight cancer has been around for many years, but only recently has the mainstream scientific community taken notice.

Every week there's news of public and private research initiatives, clinical trials, published studies and new treatments to fight cancer. And that's good news for patients as immunotherapy offers an alternative to more invasive approaches to treating cancer, such as surgery. Cancer immunotherapy also reduces the need for chemotherapy and radiation, sparing patients of the devastating side effects.

"The era of cancer immunotherapy is finally here," said Dr. Geronimo Rubio, founder and medical director of the Rubio Cancer Center. "Immunotherapy has been our main weapon against cancer for more than 25 years and it's exciting to see so much interest in the field."

How Cancer Immunotherapy Works - People with cancer suffer from a breakdown of the immune system. When this happens, the body's natural defenses are unable to recognize cancerous cells. This causes the infected cells to multiply uncontrollably and wreak havoc as they spread throughout the body. Cancer immunotherapy teaches the immune system to recognize these cells through customized vaccines and other methods. The immune system can then detect and remember the cancerous cells and destroy them. It's like when a person gets a cold and then develops antibodies so that the person never gets that same cold again.

Cancer immunotherapy was first introduced to the United States in the late 1980s. It really began to gain traction in the last decade as researchers discovered the power of the immune system. Many cancer centers, including the Rubio Cancer Center, have used this approach as part of a comprehensive strategy to fight cancer for decades.

"I have seen many breast cancer patients from stage I to stage IV go into remission in a very short time," Dr. Rubio said. "I've seen remarkable changes in bone metastasis and liver, lungs and brain spots with resolutions and remission after the application of vaccines."

Cancer Immunotherapy Gets a Boost - These days, cancer immunotherapy is finally getting the attention it deserves.

The National Cancer Institute, the US government's principal agency for cancer research, recently funded 27 research institutions in the US and Canada to participate in a massive trial network for cancer immunotherapy.

Other recent developments in the field of cancer immunotherapy include:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in March of 2011 immunotherapy for patients with late stage metastatic melanoma, which has an average survival rate of less than a year. The therapy prolongs the patient's life.

Also in 2011, Medicare agreed to reimburse the cost of an immunotherapy vaccine for prostate cancer called Provenge, which has proven effective in various studies.

A study by The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that immunotherapy boosts the survival rate of children with neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system.

"Cancer immunotherapy is noninvasive and does not have the terrible side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Best of all, it's effective," Dr. Rubio said. "That's why it will continue to be the centerpiece of our cancer treatment for many years to come."

For more information on cancer immunotherapy and other treatments for cancer visit or call toll-free (866) 519-9960 from anywhere in the United States.

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