Immunotherapy - Treatment Procedures, Types And Advantages

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The immune system is a powerful weapon to fight against disease, infections, and defective cells. Because tumor cells are the body’s own converted cells, they are not always recognized by the immune system as invaders. Also, cancer cells have multiple ways to escape, shut down or overpower an immune attack. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment used to stimulate the body’s immune system to better recognize and fight cancer.

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy treatment that uses products or substances made from living organisms to cure cancer. Looking for immunotherapy in India, then contact Cancer Therapy India where you will get the best treatment and care.

What cancers can be treated by immunotherapy?

Each cancer patient is assessed on a case-by-case basis to see whether immunotherapy is right for him or her. Immunotherapy has proven to be a possible treatment option for different types of cancers, including:

  • Bladder cancer

  • Brain cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Cervical cancer

  • Colorectal cancer

  • Oesophagal cancer

  • Head and neck cancers

  • Kidney cancer

  • Leukaemia

  • Liver cancer

  • Lung cancer

  • Lymphoma

  • Melanoma

  • Multiple myeloma

  • Ovarian cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Prostate cancer

  • Sarcoma

  • Skin cancer

  • Stomach cancer

At Cancer Therapy Hospital, we have the best oncologists in India who specialize in surgery, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy for cancers in Bangalore.

How is immunotherapy administered?

Immunotherapies can be administered either into a vein (intravenously), by injection, into a muscle (intramuscularly), or under the skin (subcutaneously). Certain types of immunotherapy may be delivered directly to the tumor location in the body cavity. Cancer Therapy India provides the best immunotherapy in Bangalore, as well as the highest possible treatment and care.

Types of immunotherapy

Different types of immunotherapy can be used for treating cancer, including:

  • Adoptive cell transfer: T-cells are collected from the patient, multiplied in a lab, and then infused into the patient.

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors: These drugs help a patient’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells.

  • Cytokines: Man-made cytokines, a group of proteins obtained naturally in the body, are used to treat cancer.

  • Monoclonal antibodies: Man-made monoclonal antibodies are injected into a patient to attack his or her cancer cells.

  • Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are injected into the body to suppress the immune system, essentially training it to fight against certain diseases, such as cancer.

  • Other immunotherapies: These treatments trigger a patient’s immune system in a general way to enhance its ability to fight cancer cells.

How does immunotherapy work?

There are different types of immunotherapy treatments available, some accelerate the patient’s immune system in a general way while others trigger the immune system to target cancer cells specifically. Immune cells travel throughout the body through the lymphatic system to fight off infection by destroying germ cells. Because germ cells contain proteins that are not usually found in the body, the immune system is able to identify them as invaders. Cancer cells also contain unknown substances, but cancer grows slowly as healthy cells undergo abnormal changes so the immune system adapts to the changes and does not always recognize the abnormal cells as foreign substances. 

How long will you get immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy can be given on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Sometimes you may get cyclic immunotherapy in which rest is required after the treatment to give your body time to recover healthy cells. The duration of treatment depends on:

  • Cancer type and stage

  • Type of immunotherapy drug

  • Your body’s response to treatment

Advantages of immunotherapy

Overall, immunotherapies are still less commonly used to treat cancer than surgery or chemotherapy. However, for a few types of cancer, these therapies are now an important treatment option. Many other immunotherapies are still in clinical trials.

Immunotherapies have the potential to be more comprehensive and less toxic than other types of treatments for cancer, because they harness the body's power itself to attack the tumor instead of introducing drugs or chemicals into the body.

Immunotherapies are a very active area of research in cancer therapy, and new treatments continue to be approved.

Risks or complications of immunotherapy

Side effects of immunotherapy may vary depending on the types of cancer and drug. You may experience:

  • Infusion-related reactions

  • Diarrhea or colitis

  • Bone or muscle pain

  • Fatigue

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as chills and fever

  • Headaches

  • Loss of appetite

  • Mouth sores

  • Skin rash

  • Shortness of breath or pneumonitis

Some severe side effects may also occur up to two years or more after immunotherapy. It is important for all immunotherapy patients to be aware of these side effects of immunotherapy and to contact their doctor right away if they occur. Some severe side effects and their symptoms consist of:

  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis):  Such as jaundice, severe nausea or vomiting, and tea-coloured urine

  • Inflammation of the colon (colitis): Such as bloody or black stools, severe stomach pain, and diarrhoea

  • Inflammation of the lung (pneumonitis): Such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing

  • Inflammation of the brain (meningitis, neuropathy, or encephalitis): Such as confusion, memory problems, hallucinations, sleepiness, and headache

  • Kidney problems: Change in urine amount or colour, blood in the urine, loss of appetite, and swelling in the ankles

  • Eye problems: Like eye redness and eye pain, blurry or double vision

Consult the best immunotherapy doctor in India, if you have any concerns regarding side effects. 

What you can expect

Unlike chemotherapy, the tumour may not always shrink in immunotherapy. Rarely, tumours temporarily increase or swell as immune cells attack cancer even when patients are feeling well. This phenomenon is known as pseudoprogression. The term means that a tumour only appears to be worsening and patients may still be a deriving benefits.

You’ll need to see your healthcare specialist often to track treatment response. You may have regular physical exams, blood tests, and imaging scans.

How effective is immunotherapy?

Success rates for any cancer treatment, including immunotherapy, depend on several factors, such as the cancer type and its stage. In general, immunotherapy is effective against many cancers, while some cancers are more immunogenic than others. Immunotherapy can produce long-lasting responses, unlike chemotherapy or radiation. However, these occur only in about 25% of patients.

Some research recommends that the immune system may remember cancer cells after immunotherapy ends.