What Selena Gomez's Lupus Can Teach Us About Chemo
Recently, the drugs most of us associate exclusively with fighting cancer have been making waves outside oncology, helping patients with often-debilitating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. "It's been a well-kept secret that we're borrowing drugs from our oncologist friends," says rheumatologist Susan Manzi, MD, a member of the Lupus Foundation of America's Medical-Scientific Advisory Council. "In fact, a chemotherapy drug that has been used to fight breast cancer is one of the most common drugs worldwide for the management of rheumatoid arthritis."
Here's why it works: One side effect of chemotherapy is a suppressed immune system, and that suppression is the exact response doctors are aiming for when treating certain autoimmune conditions. Drugs are administered via a pill or an IV, and their goal is the same as in cancer cases: to control the abnormal behavior of cells. One big difference lies in the dosage; people with autoimmune diseases typically get a lower dose than cancer patients, which may mean fewer side effects.