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Immunotherapy Cancer Treatments: What You Should Know

by Stella Robinson

When most people think of cancer treatments, they think exclusively about radiation and chemotherapy. While these types of treatments are the most commonly relied upon options by physicians to treat various forms of cancer, there are actually other, potentially less toxic methods available for cancer treatment.

Among these is the lesser-known option of immunotherapy. In order to know if this treatment option may benefit you, you need to learn a bit more about what this innovative cancer treatment entails. Once you know more, you and your oncologist can consider whether immunotherapy may be integrated into you cancer treatment plan. 

What Is Immunotheraphy?

Immunotherapy is a treatment that focuses upon your body's own immune system in the treatment of cancer. By strengthening or artificially enhancing your body's immune system, these treatments can actually trigger your body to fight back against the cancer cells growing in your body.

There are different types of immuotherapy treatments that range from general to targeted immune enhancements. The implementation of these various methods depend upon a variety of factors including the type of cancer you have and the extent of the cancer throughout your body. 

What Are Non-Specific Immunotherapy Treatments?

Non-specific immunotherapy treatments are designed not to specifically target cancer cells in your body, but instead to strengthen the overall function of your immune system. This is accomplished through the injection of chemicals naturally produced by the human immune system into the body.

These chemicals may be lacking or low in your body when you are fighting cancer. Thus the injection of these substances into the body can get the immune system back to full-strength and better able to fight off disease and infection including cancer.

This non-specific treatment can be used alone or to complement and enhance other standard cancer treatments. IL-2 (interleukin) injections, for example, are used to treat certain types of kidney cancer among others. This treatment can help your immune system to produce cells more effectively and quickly, aiding in the fight against aggressive forms of cancer.

What About Artificial Immunotherapy?

There are other forms of immunotherapy that involve the injection of man-made (or artificial) substances into the body to aid in immune responses to cancer cells. Artificial antibodies can be injected into your body, for example, that can actually target specific types of cancer cells. 

This process is a bit more difficult than non-specific immunotherapy because doctors must determine the specific antigen within the cancer cell to target. No two cancers are exactly the same. Thus, the antibodies must be specially developed and duplicated to be injected into your body to fight your type of cancer. 

As you can see, immunotherapy presents a different type of cancer treatment than what you may have previously imagined. Rather than using radiation or toxic chemicals, you may be able to fight your cancer using your own immune system. These treatments may be used as stand-alone treatments or as supplements to other treatments. So, talk to your oncologist about the possible benefits of immunotherapy in treating your cancer. 

Immunotherapy has many benefits, and many clinics use it to treat different ailments, including the Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Wyoming LLC.