Fighting cancer is a full-time job all in itself, and the treatments can be harsh and physically draining. You’ve probably heard about chemotherapy and radiation therapy as treatment options at your appointments, but have you ever heard of immunotherapy?
At Hunterdon Oncology Hematology, our goal is to help you fight off cancer with the most up-to-date treatments. Our esteemed team of doctors specializes in many forms of cancer treatment, including immunotherapy, which fights your cancer with your own immune system.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight off cancer cells in your body. The term immunotherapy encompasses several forms of treatment that essentially boost your immune response to better find and kill cancer cells.
Your immune system is made up of white blood cells, along with tissues and organs within your lymphatic system. One purpose of your immune system is to seek out and kill abnormal cells within your body that could potentially turn into cancer.
The problem with cancer cells is that they’re able to avoid your immune response in a number of different ways. One way is by changing their genetic code to be less visible to your immune system.
Cancer cells are also able to alter cells around your tumor, which makes it harder for your immune cells to find and attack them. They’re very good at disguising themselves.
Types of immunotherapy treatments
Our team offers many different forms of immunotherapy. Each one has a specialized way of helping your immune system attack the cancer cells that are making you sick. Some of the types of therapy we offer include:
Immune checkpoint inhibitors
There are checkpoints in your immune system to make sure you don’t constantly have an exaggerated immune response when you don’t need it. Immune checkpoint inhibitors block those checkpoints to allow your immune cells to overwhelm the cancer.
T-cell transfer therapy
This therapy is also known as adoptive immunotherapy or immune cell therapy. With this type of treatment, one of our doctors extracts the immune cells located within your tumor. In the lab, the best immune cells are separated from the rest and altered to make them attack cancer cells more aggressively. The lab grows a large amount of these T-cells, and then infuses them back into your body to fight off your cancer.
Immune system modulators
This type of immunotherapy increases your body’s own immune response to enhance the fight against your cancer cells. Essentially, this helps your immune system to not only seek out your cancer cells, but also to attack and kill them in large quantities.
These antibodies are formulated in a lab and are made to detect specific parts of the cancer cells. In addition, antibodies can transport drugs and radioactive therapy to the cancerous tumor.
These vaccines help to protect your body against diseases that cause cancer. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to protect your body and cells from being taken over by cancer cells.
The type of therapy that our doctors suggest depends on treatments you’ve already tried, along with the type and stage of cancer that you have.
Cancers immunotherapy can help treat
Immunotherapy is a very versatile treatment, meaning it can be used for a lot of different types of cancer. Of course, it may not be right for everyone, so discussing the treatment with one of our doctors is essential to finding out if it’s right for you. Some of the cancers that this type of treatment can help include:
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
Immunotherapy doesn’t stop there; in fact, the list of cancers it can be used to treat goes on well beyond the above list. Like many other cancer therapies, though, it can have side effects. If our doctors are suggesting this type of treatment, it usually means that they believe the benefits considerably outweigh the side effects of the treatment.
If you think immunotherapy may be what you’ve been searching for, call our office in Flemington, New Jersey at 908-264-1798 to schedule a consultation. You can also reach out to us by using our online booking tool.