Immunotherapy is an advanced form of cancer therapy that builds your body’s immune system and other defense mechanisms to combat cancer at the cellular level. In oncology and hematology services, immunotherapy has shown higher success rates on patients with certain types of cancer. For example, melanoma, which has been resistant to traditional cancer treatments such as radiation treatment and chemotherapy, is often treated with immunotherapy.
Apart from melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and cancers of the brain, thymus, prostate, breast, kidney, bladder, ovaries, lymphomas, and leukemia have all demonstrated good results when treated with immunotherapy. Medical professionals continue to conduct research on immunology regarding its effectiveness in cancer treatment to improve patient outcomes further.
Yes. However, the side effects of immunotherapy are different from traditional therapies. Some of the side effects experienced by patients who undergo immunotherapy treatment are rashes, fever or flu-like symptoms, thyroid problems, fatigue, problems with other endocrine glands, and colitis.
Most of these side effects are minor and temporary. However, keep in mind that immunotherapy is still a new approach, and so little is known about its long-term side effects.
Traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy work by killing the cancerous cells, whereas, in immunotherapy, drugs are used to boost our body’s immune system so that the cancer growth is entirely stopped or slowed down and limits its ability to spread into other parts of the body. Immunotherapy is usually administered as an oral, IV, or topical application.
The main issue with chemotherapy is that it cannot distinguish between cancer cells and healthy cells. Some of the patients' normal healthy cells can get destroyed in the process of eliminating the cancerous cells. Traditional treatments may fail to prevent the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body. On the other hand, immunotherapy treatment tries to reprogram the immune system of the patient to prevent the growth and further occurrence of cancer. In other words, the power of immunotherapy lies in its specificity.
Immunotherapy may be used alone or with other treatments, such as radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery for improved results.
The cost of immunotherapy will depend on your insurance plan’s coverage. Because of variations in coverage, we suggest you contact your insurance carrier or employer to verify specific coverage. You may also contact our offices to verify accepted plans.
If you want to know more about immunotherapy and its effectiveness on cancer treatment, schedule an appointment with us today. Our team of experienced providers are here for you.