What Is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, also referred to as “biological therapy,” is an approach to cancer treatment that utilizes the human body’s own immune system. Cancer cells are abnormal cells in the body. In ordinary circumstances, these abnormal cells and foreign substances (antigens) may be attacked by the body’s immune system. In fact, it is widely believed that the body’s immune system may naturally attack many cancers in the body before they reach a point that necessitates medical intervention. One of the reasons that many cancers present such a challenge for the immune system, however, is that these cancerous cells frequently hide from the immune system.
How Immunotherapy Works
Biological therapy attempts to harness the immune system’s strength and direct it in the destruction of cancerous cells. Immunotherapy may be used to either stimulate the immune system to attack the cancer or to react against the signals cancer cells send out that suppress normal immune system response. Immunotherapy is a field that includes many distinct approaches to cancer treatment. Generally, however, immunotherapy involves the introduction of vaccines or bacteria to stimulate immune system response. The introduction of these substances prompts white blood cells to protect the body.
Types of Biological Therapies
There are many types of biological therapies, including:
- Monoclonal antibodies
- Cancer vaccines
- Bacillus Calmette-Guérin therapy
- Oncolytic virus therapy
- Gene therapy
- Adoptive T-cell transfer therapy
Is Biological Therapy Right for Me?
Your oncologists at Jordan Valley Cancer Center can discuss potential immunotherapy options with you. While immunotherapies are not as widely used as other more traditional therapies, such as surgery, chemo and radiation, physicians are finding success with many techniques and cancers. Your Nurse Navigator at Jordan Valley Cancer Center can help you learn more about your options and how they compare to other therapies.
Side Effects of Immunotherapy
The side effects of biological therapy for cancer vary, depending on the specific treatment used, as well as the patient. Some side effects can be quite severe, which means immunotherapy cannot be recommended for everyone. Typical side effects may include pain, swelling or rash at the injection site. It is possible that some biological therapies can create flu-like symptoms or severe allergic reactions in some patients.
Biological therapy may be administered at Jordan Valley Cancer Center in one or more of these ways:
- Intravenously – through a vein
- Orally – as a pill or capsule
- Topically – as a cream rubbed on the skin (for early stage skin cancer)
- Intravesically – directly into the bladder
Treatments may be received daily, weekly or monthly. Sometimes treatments are administered in cycles; this allows the body time to rest.
Immunotherapy for Cancer In West Jordan, UT
By partnering with physicians who specialize in immunotherapy/biological therapy, our team at Jordan Valley Cancer Center is able to offer advanced cancer care to patients. Immunotherapy may be combined with other treatments, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery. With a strong commitment to an integrative approach to cancer care, we provide patients with excellent oncologists and cancer treatment professionals from a wide range of backgrounds. Find out how cancer specialists at Jordan Valley Cancer Center can help you. Contact us at 801-601-2260.