Immunotherapy

Supercharge your body's defenses against cancer

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that harnesses the power of your own immune system to fight cancer. This innovative approach includes several techniques, including:

  • cytokine therapy
  • monoclonal antibody therapy
  • immune cell therapies, like CAR T-cell therapy
  • treatment vaccines

When used together with other treatments, immunotherapy can enhance your results. It offers targeted treatment, stimulates the immune response and has the potential for long-term benefits, including remission or even cures. Immunotherapy is particularly effective in treating advanced cancers and offers a lower risk of resistance compared to traditional treatments.

Who is a candidate for immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy may be right for you if you've tried other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted therapy, without significant results. It can also be an option if you have advanced or metastatic cancer that has not responded well to other treatments.

However, immunotherapy is not suitable for everyone. There may be specific eligibility criteria for some treatments, based on the type of cancer and your overall health. Ask your cancer team if immunotherapy is right for you. We'll consider factors such as the type and stage of your cancer, your overall health and any potential risks.

What to expect in immunotherapy

Before the treatment

  • Your doctor will discuss the specific type of immunotherapy recommended for you and answer any questions you may have about the treatment process.
  • You may undergo tests and scans to assess your overall health and determine the best course of treatment.
  • Your current medications will be reviewed to avoid any interactions with the immunotherapy.

During the treatment

  • Immunotherapy treatment is typically done intravenously (IV) or subcutaneously (under the skin). The frequency and duration of treatment depends on the type you receive.
  • You may feel discomfort at the injection site during IV immunotherapy.
  • Side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash or fever may occur. These side effects are usually mild and go away after a few days.

After the treatment

  • You'll be closely watched by your doctor to check for any side effects.
  • Regular blood tests and scans may be necessary to track your response to treatment.
  • Immunotherapy can take several weeks or months to show results.
  • Your doctor may adjust the dose or frequency of treatment if severe side effects occur.

Benefits of immunotherapy

With immunotherapy, we're fighting cancer in a different way — giving your own immune system the tools it needs to fight back. This innovative cancer treatment offers several benefits, including:

  • Reduced side effects. Unlike traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, immunotherapy specifically targets cancer cells. This minimizes damage to healthy cells and reduces the risk of severe side effects.
  • Long-term potential. Immunotherapy can provide long-lasting protection against cancer recurrence. By teaching your immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells, it can continue to work even after your treatment ends.
  • Broad uses. Immunotherapy has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, bladder cancer and certain types of lymphoma and leukemia (blood cancers).
  • Personalized potential. Some types of immunotherapy can be tailored to your specific cancer type and immune profile, offering a more personalized treatment approach.
  • Resistance persistence. Cancer cells can sometimes become resistant to traditional treatments. But because immunotherapy targets your immune system instead of the cancer cells themselves, resistance is less likely.
York Hospital Recruitment Stills_HV209577

Targeted treatment

Immunotherapy specifically targets cancer cells, reducing common side effects associated with traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Enhanced immune response

Your own body's immune system is stimulated to recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively, even after your immunotherapy is complete.

Treating complex cancers

Immunotherapy has shown effectiveness in treating advanced or metastatic cancers that may not respond well to other treatments.