What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy refers to treatments that use the body’s immune system to fight disease. It involves the treatment of cancer with the help of immunotherapy.
The immune system is your body’s natural defense system. Search the body for potential threats such as infections. But cancer cells have found ways to hide from immune cells. It grows without detecting cancer cells and spreads throughout the body. It is different from chemotherapy. Chemotherapy attacks cancer cells directly, while immunotherapy reprograms your immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells.
Types of immunotherapy
We use a variety of immunotherapy to treat cancer:
- Immunization checkpoint inhibitors: This method “unmasks” cancer cells so that the immune system can detect and attack them.
- Adaptive cells: This treatment involves the treatment of a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T cell) that genetically replicates the patient’s own T cells (a type of immune cell) to detect and attack cancer cells throughout the body.
- Monoclonal antibodies: Immune system proteins specifically designed to find and destroy cancer cells are injected into the body.
- Nonspecific immunotherapies: These therapies do not directly target cancer cells, but rather the overall capacity of the immune system.
- Vaccines: We develop cancer vaccines using killed cancer cells. The vaccine is then injected into the body to attack living cancer cells and boost the immune system.
Immunotherapy is approved in the United States and elsewhere to treat a variety of cancers and is prescribed by oncologists for patients. These approvals are the result of years of research and tests designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these therapies. It is also available through clinical trials, which carefully monitor and monitor studies involving volunteer patients.
It does not always work for all patients, and some types of immunotherapies are associated with serious but manageable side effects. Scientists are developing ways to determine which patients are likely to respond to treatment and which are not. This research is leading to new strategies to expand the number of patients who can benefit from immunotherapy treatment.
Although scientists have not yet mastered the immune system’s capabilities to fight cancer, it may already help prolong and save the lives of many cancer patients. It has the potential to become more precise, more personalized, and more effective than current cancer treatments, and with fewer side effects.
What is the immune system?
Your immune system is made up of various organs, antibodies (proteins), and immune cells that work together to fight disease and infection.
- B-cell lymphocytes: These white blood cells make antibodies to fight infection.
- T-cell lymphocytes: These white blood cells attack and destroy diseased cells. T cells alert other cells to the presence of disease or foreign cells.
- Dendritic cells: These immune cells interact with T cells to stimulate the immune system response.
- Granulocytes: These white blood cells (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils) fight infection.
How does it work?
Immune cells produce cytokines, protein molecules that act on other cells. Immunotherapy introduces large amounts of these proteins into the body. Stimulates the immune system to produce immune cells. The immune system makes it easier to detect and target cancer cells.
What does immunotherapy treat?
Immunotherapy treats a variety of cancers, including, but not limited to.
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer (Brain tumor)
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer and ovarian cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Kidney cancer, liver cancer, and lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
The main types of immunotherapy that healthcare providers use to treat cancer are:
Adaptive Cell Therapy: Healthcare providers remove, replace, and reintroduce a person’s modified immune cells. The modified cells seek out and destroy cancer cells. CAR T-cell therapy modifies cancer-fighting chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. Other treatments include natural killer cells (NKL) and tumor invasive lymphocytes (TIL).
Cancer vaccines: Vaccines stimulate the immune response to protect the body from certain diseases. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against cancers of the cervix, anus, throat, and penis. There is also a vaccine for hepatitis B, which can cause liver cancer.
Immunomodulators: these substances alter the biological response of the body. They stimulate the immune system’s ability to detect and destroy cancer cells. Treatments include checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, interferon, and interleukins.
Monoclonal antibodies: These laboratory-made proteins attack specific parts of the cancer cell. Monoclonal antibodies can transmit drugs, toxins, or radioactive substances directly to tumors.
Oncolytic viruses: specialists convert these viruses into the laboratory. Modified viruses infect and destroy cancer cells.
Before starting immunotherapy
Before starting immunotherapy, it is important to tell your doctor:
- There will be an autoimmune disease
- Having an organ or stem cell transplant
- There are respiratory problems
- Have liver disease
- Are you pregnant or planning to get pregnant?
- Planning to start breastfeeding
Please inform your doctor of your complete medical history, including any changes in medication. Once it begins, you must keep all the appointments that you have scheduled. Regular and constant dose intake is very essential.
How immunotherapy affects your system it is important to tell all the doctors who care about you that you are receiving immunotherapy. These include:
- Your Primary Care Provider (PCP)
- Hospital staff
- Emergency room and emergency care personnel
- Any other doctor or specialist
Side effects of immunotherapy
Immunotherapy can have different side effects than chemotherapy or other infusion therapies.
You may experience the following side effects:
- You feel very tired or weak
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, or cough
- Lack of appetite
- Skin rash or itching
- Muscle, bone, or joint pain
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
Since immunotherapy drugs change the way the immune system works, it is important to report all side effects to your treatment team, especially those that are new or that may affect your daily life. Side effects can become more severe if they are not properly prevented or stopped early.
Your treatment may need to be stopped as it may have side effects. Some symptoms can be reversed if caught early and are often treated with other medications. These problems can start at any time during or after the treatment, so you will need to be closely monitored during and after treatment.