What is immunotherapy?
Cancer may develop when the immune system breaks down or is not functioning adequately. Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy and biotherapy) uses the body's immune system to fight cancer.
Common types of immunotherapy include:
- Monoclonal antibodies: These are man-made versions of immune system proteins. Antibodies can be very useful in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell.
- Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are substances designed to trigger an immune response in the body against certain diseases.
- Non-specific immunotherapies: These treatments stimulate the immune system in a general way to increase activity against cancer cells. Some examples include man-made versions of cytokines, a chemical in immune cells, such as interleukins and interferons.
Immunotherapy may also be used to reduce the side effects caused by some cancer treatments.
Immunotherapy / targeted drug therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Oftentimes, immunotherapy and/or targeted drug therapy is used in combination with other NHL treatments, such as chemotherapy. We will work with you to develop an integrated treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs and personal preferences. One example of a targeted therapy/immunotherapy for NHL patients is Zevalin®.
Helping you maintain your quality of life
Sometimes, immunotherapy and/or targeted drug therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma causes side effects that can interfere with your ability to participate in activities you enjoy. For example, you may experience a reduction in blood counts, which can lead to fatigue or risk of infection. Other potential side effects of immunotherapy may include: fever, chills, headache, rash, nausea and shortness of breath.
Throughout your NHL treatment, we will provide integrative oncology services, including nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, oncology rehabilitation and spiritual support. These therapies can help reduce treatment-related side effects and keep you strong in body, mind and spirit.