The immune system does not attack cancer cells. Why does the system designed to protect the body from bacteria, fungi, viruses and other parasite not recognize one of the most dreaded diseases? It’s actually a good thing that the body does not attack cancer cells. Our immune system, under normal circumstances, is not designed to attack its own tissues. One line of research aims to get the body to recognize cancer cells as possible attackers.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America regularly takes out adds telling potential customers that it uses immune-based therapies in order to target the tumors, but the 30-second television spots do not explain what the process means. This unique form of cancer treatment involves teaching the body’s immune system to treat any cancerous cells as foreign invaders. By using this method, the researchers hope to get the body to fight off its own cancers.
This method is not without risks, but it is less stressful than chemotherapy when it is successful. Some patients develop autoimmune disease months or years after they finish the treatment. An autoimmune disease is when the body attacks its own tissues.
Some of these diseases are treated with low doses of chemotherapy, just like cancer is. This side effect is perhaps unavoidable for some patients. While no one is sure what causes people to develop autoimmune conditions for certain, there is a genetic component. Environmental factors also play a role. People who already have autoimmune diseases should consider other lines of treatment first.