Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment in Weirton, WV
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment used against various forms of cancer. This treatment focuses on enhancing the body’s natural defenses to fight off disease, which is accomplished through manipulating the patient’s immune system to recognize cancer cells as an imminent threat.
Types of Immunotherapy
There are several ways in which oncologists and researchers are working to treat cancer using immunotherapy. The general objectives of immunotherapy is to enhance the immune system’s ability to:
- Destroy the cancer cells entirely
- Stop or slow the growth of cancer cells
- Prevent the cancer cells from reaching other areas of the body
Many different methods are still being studied, but the most common types of immunotherapy include monoclonal antibodies, adoptive cell transfer, checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, and cancer vaccines.
The body produces antibodies whenever it detects a dangerous substance within the body that it seeks to destroy.
Antibodies typically fight off infections within the body, but can also be engineered in a laboratory to target an abnormal protein located within a cancerous cell. Once located, the antibodies either destroy the cancer cells, or mark them as a threat to the immune system.
Adoptive Cell Transfer
There is a type of white blood cell that exists as part of the immune system and is known as a T cell. These T cells can be extremely useful in treating cancerous tumors.
Adoptive cell transfer begins when T cells are extracted from the patient’s tumor. They are then separated to form a concentrated sample of T cells that are currently the most effective at stopping or destroying cancerous cells of the tumor. This sample is then cultivated for several weeks until the T cells have multiplied, at which point they are injected back into the body to supply it with an army of cancer-fighting cells.
Different checkpoints can exist within a person’s T cells to alert the body when the immune system needs to ward off an attack. Cancer cells can cleverly disguise themselves as a healthy cell by attaching to certain proteins in the body that are typically only associated with healthy cells.
To keep this from happening, different drugs have been developed that interrupt the cancer cell’s ability to act as a normal cell. This then allows the immune system to do a more effective job of locating and destroying the cancer cells.
There is yet another kind of proteins that are made by your body’s cells, which are called cytokines. Cytokines are part of the crucial functionality of the immune system and how it responds to potential threats. Immunotherapy that relates to cytokines is focused on boosting the amount of these proteins to improve the immune system’s response to cancerous cells.
Vaccines are being developed to both prevent and treat various forms of cancer. These injections work similarly to any other vaccine by purposefully placing a weakened form of a virus within the body in order to train the immune system to fight it.
There are already two different types of FDA approved cancer prevention vaccines:
- HPV vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine
For patients who have already been diagnosed with cancer, cancer vaccines can still be effective at stopping the spread of the cancer, destroying any stray cancer cells left in the body after other treatment methods have been completed, and keeping the cancer cells from growing back.
What to Consider When Selecting an Immunotherapy Treatment Plan
Different types of immunotherapy treatments exist because some are more suitable for treating specific forms of cancer. For this reason, it is important to thoroughly discuss all of your options with your oncologist in order to find one that will be ideal for you.
Side effects of immunotherapy treatments are also important to discuss. These side effects can range from mild to severe, and may also have long-term ramifications associated with them. The most common side effects of immunotherapy are reactions of the skin at the injection site. Typical reactions include:
- Swelling and redness