Chuck Peal is a man from Waterbury, Connecticut, who was 61 years old when he was rushed to the emergency room in early September when he seemed to be dying. Doctors were not certain why this was the case nor were they able to figure out his symptoms. At first, the doctors presumed that he may have suffered from a heart attack, but he decided to use his phone to do his own research because of the doubt. What was actually happening was that Peal’s immune system was attacking his own body, a severe side effect of a cancer treatment he had undergone, which he believed was extraordinary.
During the seven weeks before this incident, Peal had undergone a treatment a Yale University for melanoma, which involved the use of two seemingly auspicious drugs. These medicines were supposed to function by triggering the immune system to attack and eliminate cancer with the same fierceness that it does in the case of other threats like bacteria and viruses.
Many healthcare professionals have acclaimed immunotherapy drugs as revolutionary treatment for cancer. Billions of dollars have been spent to conduct further research and patients with cancer have become hopeful that they will be cured. However, with the rise in the use of these drugs, doctors have ended up discovering the severe risks that these therapies pose. The same aspect that makes them effective also makes them dangerous. When the immune system is triggered by these drugs, it also begins attacking healthy, vital organs in the patient’s body, especially the bowel, liver and lungs, and even the adrenal and pituitary glands, heart and the pancreas.
Doctors at Yale have also come to the conclusion that a new form of acute-onset diabetes is also caused by immunotherapy, which happened in the case of Peal. A plethora of other side effects have also surfaced in drug trials and worldwide cancer clinics where this therapy has been in use. Studies have even revealed that serious reactions may also occur from using these drugs almost 20% of the time, and in 50% of those cases, the reactions are even more likely as a result of the combined use of several of these drugs.
Now that these drugs are becoming increasingly popular, medical professionals need to be more cautious and heedful. The use of these drugs is like “playing with fire.” People have even died from using these drugs, including five in clinical trials that were performed in recent months. Even those immunotherapy does often succeed in getting rid of the cancer, the risks are also too high, often fatal. Even with such cases and warnings, the drugs are being supported by many doctors since these drugs have also saved the lives of cancer patients who would have otherwise died.
For some patients, reactions like arthritis, diabetes and/or hepatitis caused by the use of these drugs may seem not as bad as cancer, and often they may even be bearable and treatable. However, patients who have undergone immunotherapy may also go into diabetic ketocidosis, which was the case with Peal, where the body begins damaging organs in order to compensate for energy. Pancreatic failure is particularly common among patients who suffer severe reactions after undergoing immunotherapy.
Of course, other cancer treatments like chemotherapy are not without their side effects. The only reason there seems to be a preference for immunotherapy despite its serious potential risks and side effects is because of how effective it is in treatment certain cancers.