Immunotherapy Immunotherapy


Immunotherapy is a treatment that stimulates a person's own immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy can boost or change how the immune system works so it can find and attack cancer cells.

How and Why it is done?

Immune cells produce “cytokines”, protein molecules that act on other cells. Immunotherapy introduces large amounts of these proteins into the body. The goal of immunotherapy, sometimes called biological therapy, is to help your immune system fight cancer. Immunotherapy enables the body to make antibodies that mark the cancer cell for destruction, make cancer cells “visible” or vulnerable again, or insert a virus into the cancer cells.  It stimulates the immune system to produce more disease-fighting immune cells and makes it easier for the immune system to identify and target cancer cells.

Immunotherapies may be administered either into a vein (intravenously), by injection, under the skin (subcutaneously) or into a muscle (intramuscularly). Certain types of immunotherapies may be delivered directly to the body cavity where the tumour is located.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long will I get immunotherapy?

You may get immunotherapy daily, weekly, monthly or in a cycle. With cyclic immunotherapy, you take a rest period after treatment. The break gives your body time to produce healthy cells. Treatment length depends on:

  • Cancer type and stage
  • Type of immunotherapy drug
  • Your body’s response to treatment
What should I expect after immunotherapy?

Unlike chemotherapy, immunotherapy may not always cause tumour shrinkage. You’ll need to see your healthcare provider periodically to track the treatment response. You may have frequent physical exams, blood tests and imaging scans.

What’s the difference between immunotherapy and chemotherapy?

Both immunotherapy and chemotherapy are commonly used cancer treatments that use drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancerous cells. However, while chemotherapy drugs are used to attack rapidly producing cells throughout the body, immunotherapy triggers the immune system’s ability to identify and attack cancer cells.