Published January 5th, 2016 by Stephanie
Cancer is a particularly difficult illness to fight. Rather than being the result of a foreign invader like a virus, a bacterium, or a parasite, cancer is what happens when cells within your own body mutate and decide to stop cooperating with the rest of your system. Instead, they begin to reproduce out of control, using up all the resources and space which belong to cells that are still doing their jobs.
The reason cancer is so hard to fight is because it comes from within your own body. Thus, treatments like radiation and chemotherapy are harmful because the cancer cells they target are almost the same as healthy cells, and so healthy cells wind up caught in the crossfire. And because cancer cells are so similar, doctors can never be completely sure that they’re gone. That’s why they say “it’s gone into remission” instead of “you’re completely cured.”
Another thing about cancer is that healthy cells go bad more often than we think. However, in most of these cases our immune systems are able to detect these rogue cells and destroy them before they can become a problem. When a cancer grows out of control, it’s because it’s also gained the ability to deactivate the immune system, particularly the T cells which actively watch for intruders and native cells that aren’t doing what they ought to be.
That’s why new chemotherapy drugs like Keytruda target the PD-1 pathway on T cells. Instead of killing all fast-growing cells in the hopes of stopping cancer (and making the patient’s hair fall out in the process), Keytruda reactivates the immune system and allows your own body to destroy the cancer growths.
Keytruda was a part of former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer treatment, and although it’s impossible to say whether the new drug was more responsible than the surgery and radiation treatments he also underwent, it’s shown promise in several studies so far. The drug doesn’t have a perfect record and it only works for melanoma cancers, but the potential for a chemotherapy that works and doesn’t ravage the body is undeniable.
Unfortunately, there’s one major problem with Keytruda’s effectiveness: a month’s supply costs around $12,500, making it the sixth most expensive drug currently on the market. Thus, despite the fact that the drug clearly saves the lives of many of its patients, insurance companies are balking at the idea of paying out the kind of money pharmacy companies are demanding.
Still, there’s at least one way you can reduce the impact of that kind of sticker price: the USA Rx pharmacy discount card entitles its holders to up to 75% off the list price of prescription medications, whether they be cutting-edge brand names or solid standby generics. The USA Rx discount card isn’t a replacement for a full health insurance plan, but it can help you out in situations where your insurance won’t cover all your prescriptions. You can learn more by emailing us at [email protected] or by calling us at 888-277-3911.