Cancer development and research largely focus on new treatments. Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that has shown promise. It helps your immune system fight off infections and other harmful diseases. It’s classified as a biological therapy, which means it uses substances found in living organisms to fight off cancer.
Types of Immunotherapy
The different types of immunotherapy act in various ways. They can stimulate the immune system or help the immune system attack the cancer.
Adoptive cell transfer: This treatment boosts the T cells ability to fight off cancer. The T cells are extracted from the tumor and the active ones against the cancer are grown in a laboratory before being given back via IV within 2-6 weeks.
Checkpoint Inhibitors: These drugs help your immune system respond to a tumor by interfering with the cancer cells ability to avoid attacks from your immune system.
Cytokines: These are proteins, interferons, and interleukins, created by your body’s cells that aid in normal immune system responses and its reaction to the cancer.
Immunotherapy isn’t as popular as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy yet. It has been approved to use as a treatment for many different types of cancer. Immunotherapies help the immune system find and destroy cancer cells, which are clever at hiding under normal conditions.
There are some side effects of immunotherapy that impact people in different ways. They’ll vary from one individual to another. These side effects can include:
- Redness or a rash
- Pain and soreness
- Fever and chills
- Weakness, dizziness, or nausea
- Fluid retention and weight gain
Immunotherapy can be given in multiple ways. They can be given in a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, or on an outpatient basis. Methods of admission include:
- Pills or capsules
- Creams that rub into skin
- Intravesical goes directly into the bladder
Immunotherapies can be given in cycles or require you to receive treatment on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. A rest cycle is required in between treatments to allow time for the body to recover.
Your doctor will evaluate your progress through exams and bloodwork to determine how the treatment is working. They will examine the tumors and evaluate how these treatments are working against the cancer.