Immunotherapy In Cancer

 Understanding Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function.

It is the “treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response”. Immunotherapy designed to elicit or amplify an immune response are classified as activation immunotherapy, while immunotherapy that reduce or suppress are classified as suppression immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy. Biological therapy is a type of treatment that uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.

This method has been widely adopted in oncology, particularly in cases that fail to respond to other treatment.

Immunotherapy often employs substances called biological response modifiers (BRM). The body normally produces low levels of BRM in response to infection and disease. Large amounts of BRM can be made in the laboratory to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseas

Cancer Basis

Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases. It can develop almost anywhere in the body.

Cancer Beginning:

Cells are the basic units that make up the human body. Cells grow and divide to make new cells as the body needs them. Usually, when cells get too old or damaged they die. Then new cells take their place.

But, Cancer begins when genetic changes impair this orderly process. Cells start to grow uncontrollably. These cells may form a mass called a tumor. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.

Some types of cancer do not form a tumor. These include leukemia, most types of lymphoma, and myeloma.



Types of Cancer:

Four main types of cancer are:

  1. Carcinomas
  2. Sarcomas
  3. Leukemia
  4. Lymphomas

Cancer & Genes Mutation

Genes are found in the DNA in each cell that makes up your body. They control how the cell functions, including how quickly it grows, how often it divides, and how long it lives. Genes control how your cells work by making proteins that have specific functions and act as messengers for the cell.

There are two basic types of genetic mutations:

Acquired mutations are the most common cause of cancer. They are not passed from parent to child.

Germline mutations which are less common are passed directly from a parent to a child. In these situations, the mutation can be found in every cell of a person’s body.

Mutations happen often and the human body is normally able to correct most of them. Depending on where in the gene the change occurs, a mutation may be beneficial, harmful, or make no difference at all. So, one mutation alone is unlikely to lead to cancer. Usually, it takes multiple mutations over a lifetime to cause cancer.

     Cancer Vaccines

Vaccines, also called vaccinations, are medicines that help protect the body from disease. They help train the immune system to recognize and destroy harmful substances. There are 2 types of cancer vaccines:

Prevention vaccines &Treatment vaccines

Doctors give prevention vaccines to healthy people to keep certain cancers from developing.

There are 2 types of cancer prevention vaccines

HPV vaccine: The vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus (HPV). If the virus is long-lasting, it can cause some types of cancer.

Hepatitis B vaccine: The vaccine prevents hepatitis B virus  infection. Long-lasting infection  can cause liver cancer

Cancer treatment vaccines, also called therapeutic vaccines, are a type of immunotherapy. The vaccines work to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight a cancer. Doctors give treatment vaccines to people already diagnosed with cancer.

  Types of Immunotherapy

Different types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer, which include:

Monoclonal antibodies: They are drugs that are designed to bind to specific targets in the body. They can cause an immune response that destroys cancer cells.

Adoptive cell transfer: It which is a treatment that attempts to boost the natural ability of the T cells to fight cancer. T cells are a type of white blood cell and part of the immune system.

Cytokines: They are proteins that are made by your body’s cells. They play important roles in the body’s normal immune responses and also in the immune system’s ability to respond to cancer. The two main types of cytokines used to treat cancer are called interferons and interleukin.

Advantages of Immunotherapy

Many reasons why doctor think immunotherapy’s is a good choice,

Immunotherapy may work when other treatments don’t. Some cancers (like skin cancer) don’t respond well to radiation or chemotherapy but start to go away after immunotherapy.

It can help other cancer treatments work better. Other therapies like chemotherapy, may work better when one also have immunotherapy.

It causes fewer side effects than other treatments. That’s because it targets the immune system instead of all the cells in your body.

Your cancer may be less likely to return. When one have  immunotherapy, your immune system learns to go after cancer cells if they ever come back. This is called immunomemory and it could help you stay cancer-free for a longer time.


 Side-Effects of Immunotherapy

Just like any other medication, it also has side effects.

It can harm organ system. Some of these drugs can cause your immune system to attack organs like your heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, or intestines.

It isn’t a quick fix. It takes longer to work than other common treatments. Your cancer won’t go away quickly.

Not everyone responds. Right now, immunotherapy works for less than half the people who try it. Many people only have a partial response. Doctors aren’t sure yet why immunotherapy helps only some people.

Your body could get used to it. Over time, it may stop having an effect on the cancer cells. This means that even if it has a good response at first, tumor could start to grow again.

Some types of immunotherapy amp up the immune system and cause Flu with fever, chills, and fatigue. Can even cause swelling, weight gain, stuffy head and diarrhea. They could make you more likely to get an infection. Or they could affect your nerves or raise your chance of having blood cl

Methods & Drugs

Different forms of immunotherapy may be given in different ways, which includes:

Intravenous (IV): The immunotherapy goes directly into a vein.

Oral: The immunotherapy comes in pills or capsules that you swallow.

Topical: The immunotherapy comes in a cream that you rub onto your skin. This type of immunotherapy can be used for very early skin cancer.

Intravesical: The immunotherapy goes directly into the bladder.


Iummnomodulators is a chemical agent that modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system (as by the stimulation of antibody formation or the inhibition of white blood cell activity)

It weakens or suppresses the immune system.

They are used for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that has not responded to other treatments and can be controlled only with long-term use.

Side-Effects of Immunomodulators

Trouble breathing

Swelling of face,

or lips,

or tongue,

or throat.

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