Immunotherapy for melanoma
Cancer may develop when the immune system breaks down or is not functioning properly. Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy and biotherapy) uses the immune system to fight cancer cells. Immunotherapy with melanoma is specified in order to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Types of immunotherapy include:
- Monoclonal antibodies are artificial proteins of the immune system. Antibodies needed to fight off the cancer cells of a certain type, so they are used in the treatment of melanoma.
- Anti-cancer vaccines. This type of immunotherapy designed to induce an immune response in the body against some diseases.
- Non-specific immunotherapy. These treatments stimulate the immune system to work better. This method increases the activity of the fight against cancer.
Throughout the treatment the doctors provided by integration services Oncology, including therapeutic nutrition, natural medicine, pain relief, rehabilitation after treatment. These methods may help reduce side effects and improve the overall quality of life during immunotherapy.
Possible side effects
Immunotherapy can cause various side effects, which include:
- ulcers in the mouth;
- high blood pressure;
- the accumulation of fluid, usually in the legs.
Patients with breast cancer may experience fever, chills, pain, weakness, vomiting, headaches and rash. Side effects of immunotherapy usually becomes less severe after the first procedure.
Drugs of immunotherapy in melanoma
Some medications, such as imiquimod or BCG vaccine, can boost the natural immune response of the body against cancer melanoma and can be applied or injected directly into the tumor of melanoma. Alpha interferon, interleukin-2 (IL-2) or Ipilimumab is used to treat some cases of late stage melanoma, and stimulate the immune system to attack abnormal cells.
Ipilimumab is a form of cancer immunotherapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Ipilimumab is a monoclonal antibody which targets CTLA-4, a protein that helps regulate the immune system by suppressing the activity of T-cells. This agent is used to treat melanoma that has spread or cannot be cured surgically.
In clinical trials, Ipilimumab, has helped some patients with metastatic melanoma live longer. However, this form of immunotherapy can also lead to serious side effects associated with the intestines, liver, hormones that produce glands, eyes, nerves, skin and other organs. The most common side effects from this drug include fatigue, diarrhea, skin rash and itching.
Cytokines for melanoma
Cytokines are proteins in the body that boost the immune system in General. Artificial versions of cytokines, such as interferon-alpha and interleukin-2 (IL-2) are used for patients with melanoma. They are used in the form of intravenous vaccinations. Some patients or caregivers can learn to do the injections under the skin, without leaving home. Both drugs can be given along with chemotherapeutic drugs for stage IV melanoma.
Side effects of cytokines may include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, aches, severe fatigue, drowsiness and a decrease in the number of red blood cells. Interleukin-2, especially at high doses, can lead to increased fluid in the body thatleads to swelling and malaise.