Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that works by boosting the immune system in order to fight cancer better. It is a relatively new treatment compared to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, but it has made remarkable results in some patients, one of which is former US president Jimmy Carter.
Mr. Jimmy Carter was diagnosed with melanoma, which was first discovered in his liver and later on spread to his brain. In December 2015, he announced that his brain was cancer-free due to immunotherapy. Other treatments he received were surgery and radiation.
Immunotherapy is worth looking into if you’re looking for a less invasive cancer treatment. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about the treatment.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that strengthens the immune system so that it can detect and fight cancer cells better. It can be done by stimulating the immune system to work harder or by incorporating man-made proteins to enhance specific immune functions.
What are the different types of immunotherapy?
There are several types of immunotherapy, and these are monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines, and non-specific immunotherapies.
How is immunotherapy administered?
Immunotherapy can be administered topically, orally, intravenously, or intavesically. Immunotherapy is typically done in clinics or in outpatient divisions in hospitals. In most cases, cancer patients taking this treatment are not required to spend days in the hospital.
How often should I receive treatment?
It depends. Cancer cases vary from patient to patient. Immunotherapy treatments can be required a few times in a day or in periodic intervals like once a week or month. How often you will receive treatment will depend on several factors such as how advanced your cancer case is, the type of immunotherapy, and your body’s reaction to treatment.
Are there side effects?
Just like any form of treatment, immunotherapy can have possible side effects. Patients can experience redness, itchiness, rash, swelling and pain on the part of the skin where the IV needle was used. Other side effects are flu-like symptoms, weight gain, diarrhea, heart palpitations, swelling, and added risk to infection.
How do I know if it’s working?
Physical exams, tests, and scans will be done to monitor your body’s reaction to the treatment. These tests will track the size of your tumor and any changes in your blood.
Immunotherapy is one of the latest innovations in cancer treatment. While there’s still a lot to be studied and researched about the procedure, it is still worth looking into if you’re finding ways to battle the disease.
If you want to know more about Immunotherapy, get in touch with New Hope Medical Center. We have been helping people battle cancer and live a good quality of life for 16 years.
This cancer information summary provides an overview of the use of high-dose vitamin C (also known as ascorbate or L-ascorbic acid) as a treatment for people with cancer. This summary includes a brief history of early clinical trials of high-dose vitamin C; reviews of laboratory, animal, and human studies; and current clinical trials.
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Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs – often made of antibodies – that unleash an immune system attack on cancer cells. They’ve scored some impressive successes in recent years, particularly in some patients with metastatic melanoma or Hodgkin lymphoma, and are showing promise in clinical trials involving patients with other types of cancer.
Checkpoint inhibitors block normal proteins on cancer cells, or the proteins on the T cells that respond to them.
Checkpoint inhibitors seek to overcome one of cancer’s main defenses against an immune system attack. Immune system T cells patrol the body constantly for signs of disease or infection. When they encounter another cell, they probe certain proteins on its surface, which serve as insignia of the cell’s identity. If the proteins indicate the cell is normal and healthy, the T cell leaves it alone. If the proteins suggest the cell is infected or cancerous, the T cell will lead an attack against it. Once T cells initiate an attack, the immune system increases a series of additional molecules to prevent the attack from damaging normal tissues in the body. These molecules are known as immune checkpoints.
Tumor cells often wear proteins that reveal the cells’ cancerous nature. But they sometimes commit what amounts to identity theft, arraying themselves in proteins of normal cells. Recent research has shown that cancer cells often utilize immune checkpoint molecules to suppress and evade an immune system attack. T cells, deceived by these normal-looking proteins, may allow the tumor cell to go unmolested.
Checkpoint inhibitors block these normal proteins on cancer cells, or the proteins on T cells that respond to them. The result is to remove the blinders that prevented T cells from recognizing the cells as cancerous and leading an immune system assault on them.
Three checkpoint inhibitors have received rapid approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cancer, including ipilimumab (Yervoy®), pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), and nivolumab (Opdivo®). These and other immune checkpoint therapies represent one of the most promising frontiers in cancer treatment today.