Immunotherapy is a treatment that empowers one’s own immune system to fight off cancer. Immunotherapy works to harness and enhance the natural powers of the immune system to work against the disease—by enabling it to recognize, target, and eliminate cancer cells throughout the body.
Immunotherapy can be given alone, or in combination with other types of cancer treatments. It’s been proven to be an effective treatment for patients with various types of cancers, making it one of the most promising new cancer treatment approaches since the first chemotherapies were developed in the 1940s.
Unlike chemotherapy, which acts directly on cancerous tumors, immunotherapy treats you by acting on your immune system. Immunotherapy can both activate a stronger than normal immune response in your body as well as teach your immune system how to identify and destroy cancer cells.
Immunotherapy’s side effects usually stem from an overactive immune system. Common side effects can range from skin reactions, diarrhea, shortness of breath, mouth sores, fatigue, nausea, body aches, headaches, and changes in blood pressure.