Many therapies have been developed by research institutes and hospitals to treat cancer. The cancer stage and type heavily determine what therapies are available for you to use when fighting against cancer. One of the most innovative therapies that are commonly used is immunotherapy. Over the last couple of decades, immunotherapy advancements have become an amazing way to treat cancer. How does immunotherapy entirely work? Our medical oncologists in NJ explain how immunotherapy is used in cancer treatment.
What Is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that involves utilizing parts of a patient’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. The goal of immunotherapy is to boost the defenses of a person’s immune system by making it stronger or smarter in the ways it eliminates infected cells. Medical oncologists accomplish this goal by finding ways to boost the defenses or restore your immune system through different substances. Immunotherapy can be used as the main treatment for cancer or as a complementary treatment. There are many different types that serve a variety of purposes.
The Types Of Immunotherapy
There are many different types of immunotherapy treatments that are used to treat cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors are used to help the immune system to better recognize what cells are carriers of cancer. Chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR) involves taking T-cells from the patient, and mutating them with a virus that teaches the T-cells to attack tumor cells in the body. Cytokines are messenger proteins that stimulate immune cells to attack cancer cells. Cancer vaccines are available to act as a catalyst to start a body’s response against a particular type of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are human made versions of immune system proteins that can attack specific parts of a cancer cell to stop it from spreading.
The Side Effects Of Immunotherapy
Like most treatments for cancer, there are side effects that come along with it. With immunotherapy, side effects can occur at any point during the treatment process. Immunotherapies may be taken short term and long term. The most common side effects occur where the injection side is. These side effects are skin rashes, swelling, itchiness, or general soreness. Flu-like symptoms can occur such as fever, general weakness, nausea, and trouble breathing. Your medical oncologist will work through your treatment plan to limit side effects as much as possible without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the immunotherapy.
Clinical Trials For Immunotherapies
Immunotherapy is one of the most researched forms of cancer treatment in the world today. Clinical research is still being done to create new immunotherapies that can further benefit patients with fewer side effects. If you or a loved one are interested in clinical trials for immunotherapies undergoing approval, you can reach out to the NCI’s contact center.
If you have any questions or concerns about immunotherapies, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!