WE read with great interest the article “A case for immunotherapy” (Sunday Star, Feb 12). Firstly, we would like to congratulate Chin (nasopharyngeal cancer) and Wong (prostate cancer) on improvements in their condition and for their successful struggle against cancer. Many like these two men are increasingly facing up to the reality of a cancer diagnosis as its prevalence rises in the Asia-Pacific region. However, upon reading the article we also noted several disturbing points regarding their treatment which we would like to highlight here.
Firstly, immunotherapy is indeed emerging as a new and exciting breakthrough in our treatment armamentarium against cancer. Immunotherapy aims to harness or enhance the ability of our own immune system to recognise and mount an immune response against cancer cells. Indeed, over the past few years, several immune therapies such as PD-1 and PDL-1 checkpoint inhibitors have now received licensing approval from major health authorities such as the US Federal Drug Agency (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA). Much time, cost and effort have gone into performing clinical trials involving thousands of patients in order to prove that these treatments are superior to current available treatments and can be safely given with acceptable side effects. Not least as these treatments are usually very costly, we need to be sure that they work before they are offered to the public.