Cancer Immunotherapy 101

Immunotherapy may also be referred to as “checkpoint inhibitors” because these drugs override the immune system’s mechanisms of restraint to increase recognition and activation of an immune response against tumor cells. A great metaphor is that CTLA-4, PD-1, and PD-L1 inhibitors “take the brakes off,” allowing the immune system to “rev up” to fight cancer .

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 2.00.47 PM.png

 

However, as anyone who has ever studied autoimmune disease knows, an overactive immune system can cause damage of its own. Immunotherapy can cause side effects that range from mild to life-threatening in virtually every organ and system; if side effects are severe that is an indication to halt treatment. The decisions on how to manage these toxicities (immune-related adverse effects) are complicated, and while there are guidelines on when/how to treat, the most important part is recognizing a toxicity in the first place–so keep an eye out.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 2.00.58 PM.png

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s