What is Immunotherapy?


Immunotherapy is a method of treating diseases using the body’s immune system. Immunotherapy, also called biological therapy, aims to effectively direct the immune system to treat diseases.
Description: Immunotherapy is a method of treating diseases using the body’s immune system.

The body’s immune system plays an important role in recognizing and attacking microorganisms and abnormal cells. Biological therapy supports the treatment process by ensuring that this natural defense system works more effectively against diseases.

How Does Immunotherapy Work Against Cancer?

The immune system plays a critical role in preventing or slowing the development of many cancers by detecting and destroying abnormal cells within the body. This defense mechanism can sometimes be active in the inner and surrounding areas of tumors. Lymphocytes infiltrating these areas are considered an indicator that the immune system is responding to the tumor.

Under normal circumstances, the immune system can suppress or slow the growth of cancer cells. However, cancer cells can use various mechanisms to avoid being recognized or destroyed by the immune system. These mechanisms include cancer cells making themselves less visible through genetic changes, the presence of proteins on their cell surfaces that prevent the interaction of immune cells, and blocking the immune system’s response to the tumor by changing normal cells around the tumor.

Immunotherapy makes the immune system more effective by fighting against these inhibitory mechanisms. This method, which increases the recognition and targeting of cancer cells, helps create a stronger immune response against tumors.

What are the Types of Immunotherapy?

Various immunotherapy methods can be used in the course of different types of cancer. The main types of biological therapy are treatment approaches that are customized for cancer treatment and target different mechanisms. The main types of immunotherapy are:

  • immune checkpoint inhibitors,
  • T-cell transfer therapy,
  • Monoclonal antibodies,
  • Cancer treatment vaccines,
  • Immune system modulators.

What are the Side Effects of Immunotherapy?

This treatment method, which strengthens the immune system’s response to diseases by changing its activity, may cause side effects in some patients. Side effects may vary depending on the type of treatment, medications used, the patient’s general health condition and other factors. Some of the side effects of immunotherapy can be listed as follows:

Immune System Related Side Effects: Since it works by stimulating the immune system, excessive immune reactions may occur. These reactions may present with flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, and muscle aches.

Skin Reactions: May cause various reactions on the skin. Skin problems such as redness, itching, rash, and dryness may occur frequently.

Intestinal Problems: It can affect the intestines and cause digestive system problems such as diarrhea, constipation and stomach pain.

Lung Problems: In rare cases, it may cause lung problems. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain may indicate such problems.

Liver Problems: May cause an increase in liver enzymes. In this case, symptoms such as jaundice and abdominal pain may occur.

Endocrine Side Effects: Sometimes it can affect the functioning of endocrine glands such as the thyroid gland. Such effects can lead to changes in hormone levels and metabolic problems.

Neurological Side Effects: In rare cases, it may cause neurological problems. Symptoms such as headache, dizziness, loss of balance may be observed.

Feeling of Discomfort: During treatment, patients may experience a general feeling of discomfort. This can manifest itself with symptoms such as lack of energy, fatigue, and feeling weak.

How Is Immunotherapy Applied?

Immunotherapy is an effective method used to strengthen the immune system in the treatment of diseases. The method of administration may vary depending on the properties of the drug used, the type of disease and the patient’s condition. In this treatment performed with various methods; Different administration methods are used, such as intravenous (IV), oral, topical or intravesical.

What Types of Cancer Are Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors?

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are immunotherapy drugs that help the immune system mount a more effective response against cancer cells. These drugs are used specifically to treat certain types of cancer. Some types of cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors include:

  • Skin cancer,
  • Lung cancer,
  • kidney cancer,
  • bladder cancer,
  • Head and neck cancers,
  • Hodgkin Lymphoma.

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