Immunotherapy is a form of biological therapy that uses the body's own natural defenses to fight cancer. Specially designed drugs allow white blood cells (T cells) that make up the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.
Immunotherapy Treatment at Valley
- Valley offers immunotherapy for all cancers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Immunotherapy is most commonly used as a treatment for:
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Kidney cancer
- Some gastrointestinal cancers
- Immunotherapy has been so successful it is now used as a first-line treatment for some cancers, along with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
- Because immunotherapy can be less toxic and produce fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy, we often recommend immunotherapy earlier in your care.
- Patients typically receive treatment every two to four weeks intravenously.
- Your physician will discuss with you whether your cancer would benefit from immunotherapy treatment.
Why Choose Valley for Immunotherapy?
- Expertise with immunotherapy side effects: Valley’s cancer program has extensive experience working with immunotherapy and other biologic therapies. Thanks to their many years of experience, they are familiar with the best methods to address side effects — and how to find the best treatment options to fit your situation.
- Immunotherapy check in: We follow the same supportive approach with immunotherapy treatments as we do for chemotherapy. On the day of your immunotherapy, you will see a pharmacist, nurse, and doctor in a final review to make sure any additional questions you or your family have are answered. After your treatment, we call to find out how you’re doing. Through this approach, we ensure our patients receive the support they need throughout treatment.
- Cancer treatment that addresses the whole person: At Valley’s cancer program, we treat people in a team approach. In addition to your medical oncologist, your team includes oncology nurses, medical assistants, infusion nurses, pharmacist, dietician, social work, and financial support. Our goal is for each patient to have a complete and supportive experience that accounts for all their needs.
- Mount Sinai partnership: FDA approvals and clinical research for immunotherapy are moving rapidly. Through our partnership with Mount Sinai, our patients are able to access a greater array of clinical trials — including any potential new immunotherapy trials and opportunities.
- Immunotherapy clinical trials: Valley has been at the forefront in the use of immunotherapy for cancer since 2014. More immunotherapy treatments are currently being tested in a large number of clinical trials.
Immunotherapy Side Effects
- Different types of immunotherapy can cause different side effects. Many side effects depend on the type of treatment, the type and location of the cancer, and a patient’s overall health. Immunotherapy side effects of can range in severity.
- T-cells can also attack normal tissue during immunotherapy treatment. When that happens, patients can get inflammation. Inflammation of the lung, thyroid and colon are most common.
- Because of this, patients who also have inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease, must take special care with immunotherapy treatment.
- If you and your doctor choose immunotherapy as a course of care, it is important for you to share any new, continuing, or worsening medical problems with your care team.