What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that uses the human body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It may be administered to patients intravenously in the Chemotherapy Unit of the hospital, but it is not the same as chemotherapy.
A number of cancer immunotherapies have been developed using different strategies to help boost the body’s immune response. Some immunotherapies help your immune system attack the cancer directly and some help to enhance your body’s immune response to fight the cancer. For example, some cancers trick the immune system by switching off certain pathways so that cancer cells are no longer recognized, allowing them to continue to grow. One type of immunotherapy helps fight cancer by switching on the pathways that the cancer cells have switched off, so that the immune system begins to recognize and attack the cancer. There are several other approaches to cancer immunotherapy as well.
There are different immunotherapies available in Canada to treat skin melanoma. In general, all treatment options can cause serious side effects; in some cases, there is even a risk of fatal side effects. That’s why it is always important to carefully weigh the benefits of any cancer treatment against the possible risks. You should discuss possible side effects with your doctor before starting treatment.