Immunotherapy is an effective treatment for many cancers including mesothelioma. It is now routinely available in the NHS for the first line treatment for some people with mesothelioma.
In addition to routine NHS treatment, immunotherapy may also be available via clinical trials.
What is it?
Immunotherapy is a form of treatment that helps the immune system to fight disease including cancer. The immune system is made up of white blood cells, tissues and organs (glands also known as the lymphatic system). Cancer cells have various properties that allow them to hide from the immune system.
What does it do?
Immunotherapy treatments work in different ways. Some “mark” the cancer cells making it possible for the immune system to find and destroy them. Other forms of immunotherapy work to strengthen the immune system to work more effectively against cancer.
The benefits of immunotherapy Include:
- Using the natural processes of the immune system to fight cancer
- A targeted approach that only targets cancer cells in comparison to chemotherapy which damages both healthy and cancerous cells
How is it given?
Immunotherapy for mesothelioma is given into a vein (intravenously). How often and how long you receive immunotherapy depends upon:
- The immunotherapy drug you are given
- How your body reacts to the treatment
- Whether the immunotherapy is working effectively
What are the side-effects?
As with any treatment some people will experience side effects. These will differ from person to person, but the most common side effects can include diarrhoea, itching, rash, fatigue, endocrine problems such as an underactive thyroid and joint pains. You will receive specific information on side effects according to the treatments you are given, and you will be closely monitored throughout your treatment.
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