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Fighting Cancer From Within

Aug 21, 2008
Health insurance is vital when it comes to the treatment of cancer. This life threatening disease is often diagnosed in its later stages and needs intense treatment to save a life. We all know that the NHS is stretched to its limits and because of this people are more frequently turning to private health insurance to protect themselves in the event of a major health concern. They want to know that should they or their family contract an illness or disease that they can benefit from all the medical research that has been carried out over the years and that benefit can be felt immediately and not at the end of some waiting list.

Because cancer is one of the UK's biggest killers and can sometimes be difficult to detect, constant research is being carried out into the earlier detection as well as preventative hints and tips and the best, least invasive treatment that can be brought about either through the NHS or with the assistance of health insurance.

It has long been known that the harsh treatments for cancer take an extreme toll on the body, weakening the immune system and laying the patient open to other possible infections. This is because the best hope of beating the disease is usually to use forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy but it is near on impossible with conventional methods to direct this treatment at specific growths. Normally, this treatment will also kill off surrounding tissue and this is what causes the problem. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used with a fine balancing act of knowing when the patient is at the strongest to strike with the treatment and then allow some recovery time.

As with many things, results are always more effective when a problem is treated from within. To this end, the Daily Mail reports on new research into a highly effective way of encouraging the body's own immune system to fight cancer. Blinatumomab* is a new drug that is being trialled that uses the power of the immune cells to shrink or eliminate cancerous tumours and it is hoped it will be widely available within the next five years.

Thus far, tests have been carried out on people with non-Hodgkins lymphoma but the results are so promising that it is hoped further development will lead to many other cancers being treated. Already, the drug is being tested on patients with aggressive blood cancers.

The new drug has the ability to make cancer-killing white blood cells adhere to the tumour, releasing a poison that destroys the tumour. The body is adequately supplied with white blood cells to fight disease and normally they do a fine job. However, in the case of cancer, the white blood cells are often overwhelmed to the point where they become ineffective.

This is exactly what it is hoped the new drug will overcome - using the body's own defence mechanism to destroy rogue cells from within without the need for invasive treatment. The drug will effectively activate the white blood cells to continue doing their thing until the tumour is beaten.

The research results have grabbed the attention of Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician and he is quite excited about the future prospects for patients. Careful monitoring and further research is necessary, but so far, this is the most promising possibility.

*Most insurers will not pay for drugs that have not obtained a license from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or those that are currently under experimentation, however, they will provide access to new drugs licensed by the EMA based on the individual's needs.
About the Author
Health expert Catherine Harvey looks at the hope for cancer cures and the way, if drugs pass all the neccessary criteria, we may be able to get health insurance to cover the cost in the future.
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