Immunotherapy

Experts at Houston Methodist are using immunotherapy to stimulate a person's own immune system to more effectively identify and fight cancer.

 

We offer care at seven locations across the Greater Houston area, allowing you or your loved one to receive cancer treatment close to home or work.

Why Choose Houston Methodist for Cancer Treatment

Our physician-scientists are among leading researchers worldwide studying methods and treatments to coax the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. By working to stimulate the immune system to kill cancer cells, specifically, we're aiming to treat cancer more effectively and without harming healthy tissue.

 

Clinical trials involving immunotherapy and other innovative treatments are underway at multiple Houston Methodist Dr. Mary and Ron Neal Cancer Center locations across Greater Houston.

USING IMMUNOTHERAPY TO TREAT CANCER

Our oncologists are spearheading groundbreaking work in immunotherapy, a chemotherapy alternative that removes some of the toxicity traditionally associated with fighting cancer.


About Immunotherapy

What Is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy uses drugs or treatments that are specifically designed to help stimulate or strengthen the immune system in order to more effectively target and/or fight cancer cells.

 

For instance, immune checkpoint inhibitors, a common form of immunotherapy, help fight cancer by preventing these cancer-fighting immune cells from switching off too early and before their work is done.

 

Houston Methodist uses immunotherapy to treat certain cancers, including breast cancerlung cancer and head and neck cancers.

What Are the Different Types of Immunotherapy?

Many different forms of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer, including:

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors – drugs that help immune cells react more strongly to cancer by blocking the checkpoints that allow these immune cells to switch off
  • T-cell therapies – includes tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy and CAR T-cell therapy, in which cancer-specific immune cells are grown to large numbers in the lab. This expanded amount of immune cells is then returned back to you to more effectively fight the cancer.
  • Monoclonal antibodies – immune system proteins designed in the lab to serve various purposes, including to make cancer cells more obvious to the immune system, block surface molecules that help cancer cells grow, and deliver drugs or radioactive particles to cancer cells, specifically
  • Cancer vaccines – given to cause an immune response to a specific disease, such as the vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer

What Are the Side Effects of Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy alters your immune response and immune system, and the following side effects can result:

  • Rashes
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, weakness and nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Thinning hair