Things to know before going for immunotherapy

Immunotherapy Treatment

Cancer treatment has undergone a massive change over the past two decades, thanks to the growing popularity of targeted drugs and immunotherapy. These have emerged to be significantly effective for various types and stages of cancer, which explains why medical professionals no longer resort to chemotherapy as the ONLY option. Targeted drugs are designed in a way that they attack only specific genes or proteins. Extensive research to explore how effective immunotherapy for cancer is being undertaken, not only in India, but globally. Immunotherapy for cancer in India has successfully treated certain types of advanced cancers, including lung, bladder, and skin cancers.


What is immunotherapy in cancer?

One form of immunotherapy, known as an immune checkpoint inhibitor, takes the brakes off immune cells, making them capable of detecting altered proteins on cancer cells. These drugs, including programmed death (PD-1)-inhibitors and PD-L1-inhibitors (such as pembrolizumab, atezolizumab, nivolumab), and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen (CTLA)-4 inhibitors (ipilimumab) are responsible for attacking and killing the cancer cells.



Here’s all that you need to know if you are receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors, or want to understand some crucial details about this form of cancer therapy.



- Can all cancer patients benefit from immunotherapy?

Not one type of cell immunotherapy seems to work better for certain cancers. For example, it is more effective for cancers with higher levels of PD-Li protein or a massive number of gene mutations due to DNA repair defects.



- How long does immunotherapy last?

Cancer cells build resistance to targeted therapies. Suppose you are curious about immunotherapy vs chemotherapy pros and cons. In that case, one of the primary things to know is this- When a tumour responds to immunotherapy, the remission usually lasts for a year or more, as opposed to chemotherapy, in which the remission lasts for a few weeks or months. Also, in immunotherapy, you may notice initial swelling since the immune cells engage with the cancer cells and eventually shrink due to cancer cells dying. This early swelling is medically referred to as pseudoprogression.



- Side effects of immunotherapy

Like all drugs, immunotherapy drugs also have side effects, mostly showing about two to three months after therapy starts. However, these side effects can be controlled with close monitoring, early recognition, and prompt therapy. Since immunotherapy drugs release immune cells, it may lead to inflammation in organs such as the colon (causing diarrhoea), lungs (causing coughing or shortness of breath), skin (causing rash), liver (causing a rise of liver enzymes in blood), thyroid gland (causing low/high thyroid hormone levels), and other areas of the body.



- Managing the side effects of immunotherapy

Several side effects of immunotherapy treatment can be brought in check simply by discontinuing the treatment. Alongside, medical professionals usually recommend starting corticosteroids for a few weeks. If you have undergone immunotherapy anytime in the past, make sure you report any new symptom that you experience to your treating oncologist, instead of taking over-the-counter drugs. For example, if you have diarrhoea, simply self-medicating with loperamide may arrest the symptom temporarily. Still, the larger issue will remain since the root cause, which in this case, is the inflammation of the large intestine, is not being addressed. Uncontrolled inflammation of the large intestine can have fatal consequences if the intestinal wall is ruptured. Likewise, a cough due to lung inflammation will not go away just by consuming cough suppressants. Unattended lung inflammation can be life-threatening.



- Role of antibiotics in immunotherapy effectiveness

Recent studies suggest that antibiotics may reduce the ability of immunotherapy to kill cancer. This is because antibiotics kill harmless bacteria that live in the gut. Thus, if you are taking immune checkpoint inhibitors, it is advisable to avoid antibiotics for minor infections, such as fever, cough, and other symptoms. Discussing this with your cancer team is highly recommended.



- Keeping healthcare professionals informed and updated

If you are soon to visit urgent care or the emergency room, you should let your health professionals know about your cancer treatment. This includes the type of cancer, when and where you were treated, the type of immunotherapy or any other therapy for that matter, that you received, etc. Your primary care doctor should include such important information in your medical records. Several health apps also allow you to log the information to be handy whenever you need it.



Begin your Denvax treatment with the best Immunotherapists of India

A leading chain of clinics for immunotherapy in India, Denvax is pioneered by renowned cancer Immunotherapists Dr. Jamal A. Khan and Dr. Sharmin Yaqin. Headquartered in New Delhi, Denvax clinic has branches in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Malaysia, and the UAE. Denvax clinics are known for providing top-notch immunotherapy for different types of cancer, including brain cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, oral cancer, oesophagus cancer, gallbladder cancer, liver cancer, and so on. Driven by the mission of making cancer treatment affordable and accessible to a larger population, Denvax clinics with a high immunotherapy success rate aim to benefit many patients from high quality, meaningful research. Denvax is a targeted treatment plan that rejuvenates the immune system by transforming a patient's own cells into cancer-fighting dendritic cells.



For detailed information, give us a ring on our toll-free number 1800 123 1132 or email us at contact@denvaxindia.com.