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Is Immunotherapy really effective for cancer?

June 13, 2018

Immunotherapy Monoclonal Antibodies

Immunotherapy is different from chemotherapy and radiation because it uses immune system to fight off cancer whereas the latter treatments utilize medications or high energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.

Some immunotherapy treatments help the immune system find the cancer or work harder to fight it while other immunotherapy treatments give man-made versions of proteins or other substances to help body combat the disease. Some types are also called biologic therapy or biotherapy.

Immunotherapy is approved to treat cancers like melanoma, lymphoma, and lung cancer. Immune-based treatments for many other types are being tested in clinical trials.

It’s a fairly new treatment compared with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy but it’s commonly used to treat some cancers. It works better on certain forms of the cancer than others.

Depending on the type of cancer, immunotherapy is incorporated with or after another treatment like surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. It can itself be a first treatment or one may get immunotherapy as a part of a clinical trial if other treatments haven’t worked and the disease has spread.

Should you go for Immunotherapy?

This type of treatment doesn’t work on all types of cancer. And if surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy has stopped your cancer growth, you might not need it.

Immunotherapy might be for you if it’s approved for your cancer. Even if it isn’t, you still might be able to get it in a clinical trial if your first treatments didn’t work. Ask your oncologist if any trials are testing out new immunotherapy treatments for your cancer type.

Here are a few questions you should ask your doctor to decide if it’s right for you:

Are there any immunotherapy treatments approved for my cancer?
If not, are there any clinical trials testing these treatments for my cancer?
How might it benefit my cancer?
Will I get it with other treatments or just immunotherapy treatment?
How will I get it (by shot, pill, etc.)?
How frequently will I need it?
What kinds of side effects can it cause?
For how long will I need to take the treatment?
What happens if the treatment doesn’t work?

Make sure you understand how it might benefit you and what side effects it can cause before you go for the treatment.

Posted in Blog by Apollo CBCC
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