What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that relies on the patient’s immune system to combat the disease. Immunotherapy can help the immune system discover and fight cancer cells by boosting or changing how it works. If Immunotherapy is a part of your treatment plan, understanding how it works and what to expect can help you prepare for treatment and help make educated decisions about your care.


How does Immunotherapy work against Cancer?

The immune system recognizes and destroys unusual cells as part of its normal activity, which most likely prevents or slows the progression of many malignancies. Immune cells, for example, are sometimes seen in and surrounding tumors. TILs (tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes) are a type of cell that shows the immune system is responding to the tumor. People with TILs in their tumors have a better prognosis than those without them.

Even while the immune system can stop or delay cancer growth, cancer cells develop strategies to bypass immune system destruction. Some of these strategies may be genetic alterations that make them less apparent to the immune system Or have proteins on their surface that cause immune cells to shut down. 

Therefore, Immunotherapy allows the immune system to better act against Cancer by altering the normal cells around the tumor to interfere with how the immune system responds to malignant cells.

Main Types of Immunotherapies:

There are three main types of Immunotherapy:

  • Checkpoint inhibitors block cancer cell signals from tricking the immune system into believing they’re healthy cells. This exposes them to immune system attack.
  • Cytokines can modulate the host immune response toward cancer cells, as well as directly induce tumor cell death. They can be synthesized in a laboratory and injected into the body at much higher doses than naturally produced.
  • Cancer vaccines stimulate the immune system to attack the cancer cells in a particular body area.

How is Immunotherapy given?

Different types of Immunotherapy can be administered in various ways.

· Intravenous (IV) immunotherapy, in which the Immunotherapy is delivered straight into a vein.

· Orally- in the form of a tablet or capsule.

· Intravesical Immunotherapy is another option for administering Immunotherapy directly into the bladder.

· Topically – in the form of a cream applied to the skin. This sort of Immunotherapy, in particular, can be utilized to treat the early stages of skin cancer.

What are the side effects of Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy has several adverse effects, the most of which occur when one’s immune system, which has been boosted to fight Cancer, also attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body.

 In general, the following are the most prevalent side effects:

· Chills

· Constipation

· Coughing

· Decreased appetite

· Diarrhoea

· Fatigue

· Fever and flu-like symptoms

· Headache


How often do you receive Immunotherapy?

The type of cancer and its stage can influence how often and long a patient receives Immunotherapy. Some forms of Immunotherapy are administered in a cycle, which entails a treatment period followed by rest. The time off allows the body to recover, respond to Immunotherapy, and regenerate new healthy cells.


What is the current research in Immunotherapy?

To forecast how cancer cells would respond to Immunotherapy, researchers are learning more about how they dodge or inhibit immune responses. A better understanding of how cancer cells interact with the immune system could lead to the development of new drugs that block those processes, lowering the side effects of Immunotherapy. In the video below, Dr. E John Wherry of the Cancer Research Institute clarifies the situation:


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