What is the Abscopal Effect?
Triggering the Abscopal Effect
Patients respond differently to varying treatment protocols. Patients with certain biomarkers may be more likely to experience an abscopal response after treatment. Also, different types of tumors—immunogenic tumors, for example—are more susceptible to the abscopal effect. Tumors that exhibit immune response prior to radiation therapy will potentially benefit more from the radiation therapy because the abscopal effect is more common with this type of tumor (4). Studies have shown that the effects at a distance could persist for some time, though metastatic growth may not be entirely stunted. The length of the abscopal effect is apparently patient-dependent (3).
Concerns Associated with the Abscopal Effect
An additional concern about the abscopal effect is practicality. Will exploiting the abscopal effect have a great enough effect on the overall patient quality of life and survival that this treatment will become common? If toxicity is too high, it may not be practical to exploit the abscopal effect or even continue researching into this process. If toxicity is not a significant concern, eliciting the abscopal effect could be an effective way to treat patients with metastases.
The abscopal effect could be a very beneficial treatment effect for the treatment of distant metastases, but further research must be done in order to use it effectively. If the abscopal effect is to be used in the future, special attention must be paid to dose, fractionation, and timing coordination with other adjunct interventions.
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