Our body’s immune system comprises white blood cells, lymph nodes, and the lymphatic system, which help fight infections and diseases. Immunotherapy is an advanced treatment that uses this immune system to fight cancer. It is a type of biological therapy and can be of different types– monoclonal antibodies (targeted therapy), immune checkpoint inhibitors, oncolytic virus therapy, T-cell therapy and cancer vaccines. Immunotherapy works in one or more of the following ways:
Immunotherapy does not work for everyone. After evaluating your cancer type, overall health and other factors, your doctor and healthcare team will determine if you are a candidate for immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has the potential to treat all types of cancer. However, existing research and clinical trials make it an excellent treatment option for just a few cancer types. Since each cancer and its behaviour in an individual is different, immunotherapy is a part of the personalised treatment care of every patient. Some cancers that have been treated with immunotherapy include cancers of the:
Many factors determine if you are a candidate for immunotherapy, such as:
You may be a candidate for immunotherapy if:
Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy along with other traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
If you are a candidate for immunotherapy, here are some ways of its administration:
Immunotherapy is an outpatient procedure, and its frequency depends upon your cancer, its stage, the type of immunotherapy you are receiving, and how your body reacts to it.
Immunotherapy has multiple benefits over traditional cancer treatment options like radiation and chemotherapy. These include:
Immunotherapy is a precision treatment used for cancer and only results in mild side effects that resolve by themselves. While standard treatment options kill cancer cells, many of them also suppress the body’s immune system. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, strengthens the body’s immune response.
The side effects caused by immunotherapy depend upon its type and the area being treated. A few common side effects that may be seen with this treatment include:
Inform your doctor if you are experiencing any of the mentioned side effects or if they worsen over time.