• Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the patient’s immune system. Immunotherapy has the power to alter or strengthen the immune system’s ability to recognize and combat cancerous cells. If immunotherapy is part of your treatment plan, being aware of what to expect and how it operates can frequently help you get ready for treatment and make well-informed decisions about your care.
  • It is a new type of cancer treatment that uses a person’s own immunity to fight the cancer cells.
  • One of the latest developments in the field of cancer.
  • They have a role in most the cancer types in various settings.
  • Immunotherapy can be given alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
  • These drugs are called check point inhibitors

Mechanism of action:

Tumor cells contain various check point proteins such a PD-L1 on their surface.

Our immune cells (t-cells) have PD-1 on the surface.

PD L-1 and PD-1 combine to escape from the immune system from killing the cancer cells.

Hence, various drugs have been developed to inhibit the checkpoint proteins, which lead to cell killing.

The various immunotherapies being studied or used to treat blood cancer are:

  • Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy
  • Monoclonal antibody therapy
  • Cytokine treatment
  • Donor lymphocyte infusion
  • Radioimmunotherapy
  • Reduced-intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation
  • Therapeutic cancer vaccines

Immunotherapy side effects:

The side effects of immunotherapy can differ depending on the treatment type and may also be impacted by the type and location of cancer, along with the overall health of the patient. It is recommended that patients consult with their oncologist and care team before undergoing treatment to have a better understanding of the potential risks and side effects associated with specific immunotherapies.

The common side effects of immunotherapy are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Arthritis
  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Infusion-related reaction/injection site pain
  • Itching
  • Muscle aches
  • Coughing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Why immunotherapy causes side effects?

Immunotherapy is a successful treatment for several cancer types. They are strong drugs that, like other cancer therapies, may have adverse effects that alter your body’s functioning or your emotions. Everybody experiences these side effects differently. They are contingent upon the particular immunotherapy modality you are receiving, the kind and location of your cancer, as well as your overall health status and other variables.

Additionally, immunotherapy may trigger the immune system to target healthy cells. This can lead to side effects, which are also known as “immune-related adverse effects.” These may occur during treatment at any point or occasionally, even after immunotherapy has been discontinued.

Immunotherapy is rapidly evolving, and ongoing research is constantly improving how these therapies are used and developing new immunotherapeutic strategies.


Immunotherapy Side Effects