Immunotherapy increases life expectancy for cancer patients, but does not reach SUS

Immunotherapy increases life expectancy for cancer patients, but does not reach SUS

Immunotherapy can increase the life expectancy and well-being of people with cancer, but it is still difficult to reach for the population.

In SUS, clinicians find it difficult to prescribe immunotherapies due to lack of funding, which threatens the democratization of treatment.

The strategy of “training” the immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells is an important advance in cancer medicine.

This was one of the topics of the seventh edition of his Cancer Symposium binding On August 15 and 16.

The event was sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sirio Hospital Lebanon and Pfizer and mediated by Vera Guimarães, former Ombudsman at binding.

says Maria del Pilar, clinical staff director at ICESP (Institute of Cancer of the State of São Paulo).

The specialist says that there may be side effects in some cases, but medicine has learned how to deal with these situations.

“Perhaps most importantly, immunotherapy has given some diseases a life expectancy that we haven’t seen before. This is especially true for skin cancer, lung cancer, and kidney cancer.”

She adds that the effect of this treatment can be increased with the use of immunocomparators, that is, drugs that combine antibodies and chemotherapy to fight the disease.

Although it is an important treatment, access to it is uneven. According to the expert, the funding in the public network is still insufficient to ensure that it is presented in a systematic manner.

“We have difficulties at the moment that must be overcome so that we do not have social differences during treatment. And if it is beneficial, gains and quality of life for the patient, it is important that it is offered to those who really need it.”

Marina Sahda, a specialist oncologist and deputy clinical director at Serio Hospital Lebanon, shares a similar opinion. According to her, patients undergoing immunotherapy usually do not feel ill or need to be treated in hospital.

“But the big challenge is access. For a disease like melanoma, where other options aren’t good, having to struggle to get access to immunotherapy is very dangerous.”

And remember that before this method, there was a treatment for melanoma that caused serious adverse effects and had low response rates.

“Immunotherapy allows us to bring a much better quality of life to the patient. Now, we just need to show that this is happening for the weight loss that everyone thinks the patient is dying of when in fact it is not.”

Angelica Bavao, medical director at Bristol-Myers Squibb, says elderly patients can benefit from immunotherapy and that the minimum age for treatment is 18.

Marina Sahid says that women cannot get pregnant during treatment and that they need a break in pregnancy after the immunotherapy ends.

In addition, she stated that it is not known for certain whether there is impaired fertility. “It is essential that the patient ask the oncologist if this will affect, if he or she needs to freeze the egg or sperm.”

Although immunotherapy has benefits in fighting certain types of cancer, immunotherapy has some limitations. As for the treatment of sarcoma, the tests did not produce satisfactory results.


See the paintings from day one

“The immunotherapy for sarcoma hasn’t been very good so far. The studies are not very encouraging, but there are a lot of chemotherapy options that work,” says Sahadi.

In the case of breast cancer, this strategy can help, but it’s usually not powerful enough to act on its own, says Max Sina Mano, MD, lead breast cancer specialist at the Oncoclínicas Group. “Generally, we combine it with chemotherapy to get a better result.”



The cancer patient is still seen by residents as the bald person who dies at the end of the movie, but no one else is seen who has been cured or living with a chronic, transmissible disease.

The expert also explains that the approval of these drugs in Brazil is taking place at an appropriate pace. He stresses that the problem lies in the distribution of medicines.

“The public sector has had a lot of difficulty absorbing these treatments, which is understandable, because they come at ridiculous costs.”

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