More than 300 people die annually in Chile due to skin cancer and immunotherapy is installed as a real opportunity that can reduce the intensity of clinical complications by up to 80%, including metastatic spread and significantly increase survival.
In this South American country, with 17.2 million inhabitants, skin cancer ranks third among the most common, with an increase of 20% between 2010 and 2015.
Chilean specialists explain to Efe that there are several types of skin cancer, but the type
, although they are less frequent (1-4%), they are the most aggressive and those that produce the highest number of deaths (75%).
Melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, is a malignant tumor that originates 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 stem from a variety of reasons, such as excessive exposure to sunlight during childhood and youth, which may lead to changes in skin cell DNA (melanocytes) for years to become malignant melanomas.
"Most of the malignant melanomas found at an early stage can be treated with surgery and / or some kind of additional treatment, in fact about 90-95% of these cases have a good prognosis of 5 years (melanoma in situ)." pathologist and molecular oncologist Dr. Ramne Gutierrez.
However, Gutierrez, executive director of the ReCell Clinical Center, said that sophisticated melanomas are more difficult to treat because they usually spread, invade adjacent tissues and include important organs and distant sites in the tissues of origin, so-called metastases , bones, liver, lungs or kidneys, among others.
"In these cases, if the malignant cells have already invaded the main laminate, it is likely that they enter the lymphatic formations by which they propagate at a distance, generating a secondary commitment called metastasis that seriously compromises the healing abilities and expectations of Survival with only 16 % of survival for 5 years, "he said.
However, cancer immunotherapy research lines such as melanoma have developed significantly in recent years, and there are currently treatments that can stimulate the patient's immune system to recognize and destroy tumor cells and give patients new hope
"These treatments are directed against specific tumor cells, thus avoiding damage to other body tissues including the same immune system that significantly reduces discomfort and complications as it does not attack healthy body tissues, and even when the immune system is accustomed to treatment, it can continue to act against the tumor as a "memory" that allows an extension of the experience, "he added.
In Chile, the ReCell Clinical Center performs third-generation dendritic cell immunotherapy, the most complete version of the same "technique" that won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2011, and the progress achieved by Nobel 2018 in early October.
This is one of the most personalized and specific protocols that exist as they are prepared for each patient with samples of their tumor and blood cells that are then programmed in the lab and re-placed in the individual on an outpatient basis.
In malignant melanomas, immunotherapy succeeds in doubling the overall survival of cases involving it, which is an important complement to the results obtained with other treatments.
"In fact, there were cases that had a life span of four to six months, and after having been treated with dendritic cell immunotherapy from the tumor biopsy, they have achieved survival over two and a half years with a good quality of life." pathologist and molecular oncologist.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the world, and every hour an average man dies as a direct or indirect consequence of some type of sun exposure.