More than 300 people die in Chile due to skin cancer and immunotherapy was installed as a real option that can reduce the intensity of clinical complications by up to 80% including metastatic spread and significantly increase survival
In this South American country of 17.2 million, skin cancer ranks among the third most common, with a 20% increase between 2010 and 2015.
Chilean experts have explained to Efe that there are several types of skin cancer but type
, although they are uncommon (1-4%), are the most aggressive and those that cause the greatest number of deaths (75%).
Melanoma – the most aggressive type of skin cancer – is a malignant tumor originating from melanocytes, which are cells that are part of the epidermis, the upper layer of the skin and the epithelium of the mucous membranes.
They arise for a variety of reasons, such as excessive exposure to sunlight during childhood and youth, which may, after several years, cause changes in the DNA of skin cells (melanocytes) to become malignant melanomas.
"Most malignant melanomas found in the initial phase can be cured by surgery and / or some kind of complementary treatment, in fact about 90-95% of these cases have a good prognosis after 5 years (melanoma in situ).", Said the pathologist and molecular oncologist Dr. Ramón Gutiérrez.
However, Gutierrez, the Chief Executive Officer of the ReCell Clinical Center, said advanced melanomas are more difficult to treat because they usually spread, attack neighboring tissues, and include important organs and distant sites in the tissue of origin that occurs in the so-called metastasis, which can endanger the bone, liver , lung or kidney, among others.
"In these cases, if malignant cells have already invaded a basal laminar, it is possible that they enter lymphovascular formations that propagate remotely, creating a secondary commitment called metastasis, which seriously endangers treatment options and survival expectations, only 16% survival in five years, "he said.
However, research lines of immunotherapy against melanoma-like cancer have progressed significantly in recent years, and there are currently treatments that can stimulate the patient's immune system, recognize and destroy tumor cells and give new hope to patients
"This treatment is targeted against specific tumor cells, preventing damage to other tissues in the body, including the same immune system, which greatly reduces discomfort and complications because it does not affect healthy body tissues and even when the immune system is used to treatment, continue to act against the tumor as "memory", which allows for prolonging survival, "he added.
In Chile, ReCell is the third generation of dendritic cell immunotherapy, the most comprehensive version of the same "technique" that won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2011 and won the Nobel Prize in 2018 at the beginning of October.
It is one of the most personalized and specific protocols that exist, as prepared for each patient, with samples of their tumor and blood cells, which are then programmed in the laboratory and re-inserted into the patient on an outpatient basis.
For malignant melanomas, immunotherapy can surpass four times the overall survival of the cases that involve it, which is an important complement to the results obtained with other treatments.
"In fact, cases with a life span of four to six months, and having been treated with tumor cell biopsy dendritic cells, have survived for over two and a half years with a good quality of life," said a pathologist and molecular oncologist.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year and, on average, every hour a person dies as a direct or indirect consequence of any type of disease associated with sun exposure.