Is Immunotherapy Worth the Risk?

After being diagnosed with cancer, your doctor may suggest immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is an evolving treatment method that’s proven effective for many types of cancer. It harnesses the power of the body’s own natural immune system to fight back against cancerous cells. As treatment planning gets underway, talk to your RCCA care team about potential risks and benefits associated with immunotherapy so you can make informed treatment decisions.

Immunotherapy: Benefits and Common Side Effects

There are many immunotherapies available to patients today, such as T-cell therapy and monoclonal antibodies. While the available treatments are diverse, they do offer a few common benefits. Immunotherapy may provide more effective treatment for certain types of cancer, and it can be used alongside other forms of treatment to enhance performance.

Some individuals also experience fewer side effects with this type of care. However, immunotherapy is not without side effects for most patients, and these side effects can vary. Patients have commonly reported the following side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Pain, soreness and muscle aches
  • Swelling
  • Rash and blisters
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chills
  • Weakness

Serious Side Effects

There are some potentially life-threatening side effects of immunotherapy that all patients should be aware of. Monoclonal antibodies, for example, have been known to cause high blood pressure, bleeding, blood clots, kidney damage, severe rashes and other serious risks.

Likewise, CAR T-cell therapy can cause cytokine release syndrome (CRS). CRS results in dangerously high fevers and low blood pressure. Additional side effects may include seizures, confusion, serious infections, low blood cell counts and severe headaches.

RCCA Can Help You Make the Best Decisions for Your Health

In order to fight back against cancer, patients need treatments that are just as strong, like immunotherapy and other proven options. All treatment methods come with risks, so it’s up to you, your support team and your doctors to weigh the pros and cons in order to make the best healthcare decisions. Remember, immunotherapy affects everyone differently. Some people may respond with very minimal side effects, while others may experience a more serious reaction.

To learn more about immunotherapy and to see if it’s right for you, schedule an appointment at RCCA. We have locations throughout Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. Call 844-346-7222 to find a cancer specialist near you today.