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Biological therapy, or immunotherapy, uses the body’s own natural defenses to combat cancer. Specifically, biological therapy can be used to:
- Stop or slow the growth of cancer cells
- Prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body
- Improve the immune system’s ability to destroy cancer cells
Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created proteins that act like the antibodies produced by the body’s natural immune system. Once inside the body, these antibodies can:
- Make cancer cells more obvious to the immune system
- Block the growth factor receptors that enable cancer cells to multiply
- Carry radioactive particles to cancer cells
- Carry drugs to cancer cells
These therapies include interferons, interleukins and cancer vaccines—lab-created compounds that enhance the immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells or to prevent cancer from returning.
If you have early-stage bladder cancer, your doctor may order a special form of immunotherapy that involves a BCG solution, which is made from a weakened form of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (bacillus Calmette-Guérin). The solution is placed directly into the bladder via a catheter and remains there for about two hours.
- A rash where the therapy was injected
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, weakness and nausea
- Changes in blood pressure
- Breathing problems
As with any cancer treatment, it’s important to pay close attention to the instructions from your doctor and to know which warning signs to watch out for in the days and months following your immunotherapy.
Learn more about cancer treatment:
For more information about biological therapy and immunotherapy at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.