Last year, researchers James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo received the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology for their discoveries that led to the development of immunotherapy. The treatment method is mainly given to patients with certain types of disseminated cancers - and that with very good results.

"Immunotherapy has definitely made a difference in how long, especially patients with disseminated lung or skin cancer, can have their cancer disease and still feel good," says Linn Pettersson, a doctor at the oncology clinic at the county hospital Ryhov.

Difference with cell toxins

- It is a difference to more traditional treatment methods, such as cytostatic drugs, says Linn Pettersson, who believes that immunotherapy, often in combination with other treatment methods, will in the future become increasingly common in cancer care. In Jönköping County, the number of patients being treated with immunotherapy is steadily increasing.

Offered to everyone who needs - but not everyone is helped

Often, cancer drugs are expensive. The more people receiving the treatment, the more the costs for the regions responsible for health care increase. In Jönköping County, there are no financial restrictions on how many people can receive immunotherapy. As long as the patient has a type of cancer where the treatment is approved and has proven to be effective, it is offered.

- The national guidelines are only followed on medical grounds, says Linn Pettersson.

Previously, the number of patients with spread skin cancer who survived their disease for more than five years was only six percent. With the rapid development of immunotherapy in recent years, the same figure today is close to 60 percent. But despite the very good effect of the treatment method, it does not bite everyone.

- There are still things in cancer disease that we do not know about and that play a role. As with many other cancer drugs, there is a certain part of the patients that will be helped and a certain part which unfortunately will not be, says Linn Pettersson.

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Claes Hernegård from Jönköping had incurable cancer, but is now symptom free thanks to the medicine that is now the reason for the Nobel Prize in medicine Photo: SVT