Side Effects of Immunotherapy and How They Are Treated

As we all know, almost all drugs have side effects. Immunotherapy also has some side effects that it causes to the patients despite the fact that it does not affect healthy cells as chemotherapy and radiotherapy do. Fortunately, doctors have ways of dealing with these side effects to ensure patients comfort and good health is maintained.

Below are some of the side effects and how they are treated.

Skin Problems

50% percent of patients under immunotherapy present with a skin reaction. The skin may turn red, pale or even yellow. It could also be itching, swelling, reddening or even have pain at the site where the drugs are injected into the body. Also, the patient can present with mouth sores and blisters. However, using warm water with unscented soap while bathing or showering reduces swelling of the skin. The patient should apply a less scented oil or lotion to moisturize the skin to prevent cracking as well as to sooth the skin. Patients should avoid staying out in the sun, and if they have to, they should consider using the sunscreen to prevent their skin from further damage from the sun rays. In addition, topical corticosteroids can also be used in cases of rash and oral antipruritic. If symptoms do not clear up, patients should see a dermatologist for prescription of a stronger cream or antibiotics.

Autoimmune Disorders

Unlike chemotherapy and radiotherapy, immunotherapy does not target all cells in the body. It works on specific tumor cells hence it is preferentially used than other types of therapies. However, some drugs have a powerful effect that they attack the healthy cells and organs. These cause inflammation of the lungs known as pneumonitis which causes shortness of breath as well as chest pain. It also causes inflamed eyes and poor bowel movement hence hindering the normal functioning of the body systems. Endocrine disorders also present and it is characterized by hormonal changes in the body. It presents with symptoms like fatigue, headache, mood changes, rapid heartbeats and hair loss. Some of these conditions are fatal while others are mild and treatment is given according to the severity. Doctors, therefore, prescribe corticosteroids depending on the seriousness of the disease. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed to reduce inflammation of tissues and organs. Nevertheless, corticosteroids side effects should be monitored as they cause weight gain.

Flu-like Symptoms

This is yet another syndrome that presents with so many symptoms, therefore, lacking a one-way treatment. Doctors treat one symptom at a time as it shows. Different therapies are prescribed. Not many drugs are taken due to these symptoms as most of them are managed using supportive measures. These symptoms include; chills, weakness, dizziness, fever nausea dry cough joint pain as well as muscle pain. Pain is controlled by taking over the counter drugs. Severe vomiting and diarrhea, however, needs close monitoring and a stronger medication. Stomach aches and nausea are managed at home whereby the doctor teaches the patients on how to handle them at home. For instance, in case of stomach ache, the doctor will advise one to take cold food that has less smell. For a patient who is vomiting, sips of ice water, juice and ginger prevent one from feeling nausea hence the patient cannot vomit anymore. These are among the measures that are taken to ensure that the patient is comfortable with the immunotherapy that he is receiving.

Management of the side effects associated with immunotherapy is vital as it increases the comfortability of the patient during treatment. It also overcomes treatment withdrawal due to nuisance side effects that can discourage the patients from using immunotherapy treatment.

What Is Tailored Medicine and How Effective Is It?

Tailored medicine or personalized medicine as it is known by most people is a very new technique. It is being used by doctors to treat rare diseases or the advanced diseases that are non-responsive to the old treatment strategy. The treatment option derives its name from the fact that your doctor will ‘tailor’ a treatment plan based on your genetic composition, the environment you are exposed to and the family history among other important aspects that affect your health. With this information, the doctor comes up with a treatment plan that is suitable to your body.

 

How Tailored Medicine Works

In most cases, tailored medicine starts with a genetic test. This is done by taking a blood sample or some saliva. The doctor then looks at your genome to determine the best procedures that will be used to treat you. In cases of cancer, the doctor will take a sample of the tumor cells to study them while comparing to your genes to determine any outstanding difference. Personalized Medicine is used to treat diseases like breast, lung and colon cancers, some rare childhood illnesses and HIV/AIDS among other ailments. Environmental factors are very critical when determining the best treatment option. You may have the same genetic composition with your relatives to some extent, but they remain healthy while you end up sick. The doctor will study other things like environmental factors such as pollution and the effect it may have on your disease susceptibility.

 

Benefits of Personalized Medicine

Although the field of personalized medicine is still acing challenges, its benefits are undeniable. For any patient who has undergone the treatment option, they can attest to the fact that this form of treatment improves trust between the patient and the doctors. The hospitals will stop relying on reactive medical practices and focus more on preventive medicine. Personalized treatment options have also given rise to pharmacogenetics; this is where the pharmaceutical farms and chemists sell medicine to patients based on their genetic composition. Personalized medicine is in one way or the other the mother of molecular drugs that are being manufactured today by pharmaceutical companies. The side effect of treatment will be mainly reduced when tailored treatment is given a chance. It will also be easy to determine the kind of therapy that is effective for each patient. With progress in this field of personalized care, the perception of the medical area will change.

Is Tailored Medicine Right for You?

Some people respond very well to standard medicine, if you are one of these people, then stick to usual medication. But if you have an aggressive disease like cancer that has become non-responsive to other treatment option, then go for tailored medicine. The doctors will get to dig deeper and understand why the standard treatments are not working or you. For have a family history of cancer or rare childhood diseases, go for a regular checkup. The doctor will determine if based on your medical history and family history; you are in need of personalized medicine. Nevertheless, you are free to ask your doctor to consider your genetic composition when prescribing drugs for you.

Tailored medicine will save the patients lots of money. The current approach of medical would always leave the patient very drained financially mainly because the drugs prescribed are some kind of trial and error thing, if the first prescription doesn’t work, then you are forced to get a different drug.

How to Prevent Further Infection to Patients with Cancer

People living with cancer have poor immunity because the immune system is weakened by cancer treatment as well as the cancer disease. These people are therefore susceptible to infections that come their way. Nevertheless, there are some measures that patients can put in place to avoid infections from viruses or even germs.

These measures include;

Observing Hygiene

This involves keeping high level of cleanliness at home, workplace and when in public. Washing hands is one of the primary actions that should be observed by these patients. After visiting the toilet, the patient should wash his/her hands with warm soapy water to avoid transferring germs to the mouth. Also, patients should wash hands after sneezing, coughing, handling animals, collecting trash as well as after touching things that are contacted by other people like door handles and other public items that can lead to the patient acquiring germs. Bathing daily is also essential as it takes off germs that the body might have collected throughout the day. During bathing, keen attention is paid to sweaty areas as well as the anal area to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause diseases. Cancer patients must consider using alcohol-based wipes in places where they cannot access water to wash their hands. Also, they should avoid sharing their items including makeup, utensils, and clothes as they can collect germs from other people rendering them exposed to bacteria that can cause diseases.

Medication to Prevent Infections

The immunity of a patient mostly depends on the stage of his/her cancer. Patients in advanced stages have their immunity lowered to a level that observing hygiene and other non-medicinal measures cannot help because their immunity needs to be boosted. In this case, there are some preventative drugs mostly antibiotics that work as prophylaxis hence preventing infections. These drugs can be antifungal, antibacterial as well as antivirus. Some drugs such as steroids weaken body immunity, and they are usually given with antibiotics aiming at preventing infections. These drugs are given when the immunity is compromised and are stopped when the immune system is no longer so weak. Nevertheless, these drugs do not entirely prevent patients from infections. Therefore, they should pay keen attention to any sign of infection and report to their doctors as soon as possible to maintain a stable immune system. There are also some growth factor drugs that are protein in nature that enhance the growth of blood cells boosting the immunity of a patient.

Eating Well Balanced Diets

Although, fruits and vegetables have vital vitamins and mineral salts that are required by our bodies, many doctors advise cancer patients not to take them due to germs that they can transfer to their bodies if they are not washed thoroughly. However, if they are cleaned well, patients can consume them to acquire vitamins that the body needs to fight diseases. Precut and canned fruits should be avoided as during the handling and packing process they might be contaminated. Foods from soft server machines like yogurt and ice cream should also be avoided. It is crucial that patients should include their doctors in their dietary nutrition issues to advise them on which food to eat and which ones to avoid. Also, patients are encouraged to take a lot of fluids especially water to prevent constipation that can lead to the destruction of the mucosal layer of the anal canal which can be a perfect entry of germs to the body.

To summarize, good hygiene reduces the chances of patients getting infections from their environment hence improving life.

Make Sure You Get Enough Water and Food during Cancer Treatment

Water plays a significant role in the body. Even when you are not under any treatment, it is advisable that you remain hydrated at all times to maintain proper functioning of the body. Some of the essential roles played by water include; regulating body temperature, removes toxins and waste from your body, maintains the blood pressure levels and supplies nutrients and oxygen to the body. Any person undergoing cancer treatment or any form of therapy will need water for better recovery. During cancer treatment, your body will lose a lot of water due to the frequent vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

At the time you may not be feeling thirsty, but your body will be dehydrated. Dehydration has been linked to reduced prognosis (full recovery) in some patients. It is thus crucial to know how dehydration presents itself. Dry mouth and tongue, yellow urine which is also reduced in volume, headaches, dizziness, constipation, and nausea are some of the tell signs that your body needs more water. The symptoms can get even worse. At such a point where you produce no urine or very little of it, you should seek help from your doctor. Other extreme signs include low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and excessive thirst even after you drink some water and production of very dark urine.

Doctors advise all patients to take in at least eight glasses of water per day. But if you are losing lots of water daily, you should take more than eight glasses. Try and keep track of how many drinks you have taken to ensure that you do not deprive your body of the much-needed water.

Ways in Which You Can Keep Your Water Level High

Not every person can take the plain water as it is recommended. Some people find the water extremely tasteless and cannot handle drinking a minimum of eight glasses per day. For such people, it is recommended that they add some ice cubes in the water. If that does not work, make sure that you are drinking lots of fruit juice, milk, decaf coffee and tea throughout the day. Eating some fruits such as watermelon will also help maintain the water level in your body. Some vegetables such as lettuce and broccoli have some substantial amount of water that will keep dehydration away. Don’t strain your body to take two glasses in the morning and two more during lunch break, be lenient on yourself. Sip small amounts of water all day. Pressuring yourself will only make you unable to attain your goal. Suck on ice chips if all the above methods do not work for you.

Don’t Restrict Your Diet and Avoid Supplements

Your body will work better if it is subjected to less dietary restrictions. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, don’t deny yourself some kinds of food. Many people decide to go on an entirely vegetarian diet. This will leave the body with no source of carbohydrates and proteins. You should aim at maintaining your muscle mass, losing weight or gaining is at times inevitable, but it should be regulated.

Go slow on the vitamins supplements, allow the body to absorb the needed vitamins and minerals from the balanced diet that you will be eating. Your body is already consuming too many drugs, and it is not clear how the supplements will react with the cancer treatment drugs. Focus on eating a balanced diet meal made up of more veggies, fruits and a small amount of protein and carbohydrate.

Palliative Care during Cancer Treatment

Before addressing the aim of palliative care, it is worth knowing that palliative care is not same as hospice care. You can start palliative care as soon as you are diagnosed with cancer. The care aims to improve the quality of life of any patient that is suffering from a life-threatening disease like cancer and heart disease.

Who Gets Palliative Care, from Whom and at What Stage?

Palliative care is not meant for the patients only; improving the quality of life of the cancer patient involves the people around him or her. Ensure that the close friends and family members are ready to help the patient go through the treatment without victimizing the patient. The care is given to the patient from the beginning of the cancer treatment. The sooner you start the procedure, the better you will cope and handle the adjustments that come with cancer care.

Do not be afraid of asking for this help because of the financial aspect; it is covered by your medical insurance. Both Medicaid and Medicare cover palliative care. Do inquire when unsure and get the best services while you are still under treatment. The care is administered by your doctor, he or she will be an essential person in dealing you deal with the pain. Other notable people that will help you with the emotional pain and spiritual include your family, chaplain, and nurses. A nutritionist will guide you on the foods that will reduce nausea feelings and make you less fatigued.

With Palliative Care, Communication and Sex Issues are Handled

With the support groups and your nutrition’s helping you eat the right foods, aspects of sex and communication become non-issues. For cancer patients, it is challenging to go around telling people that you have been diagnosed t cancer. It is even more difficult if you are a parent and would like to protect your children. With palliative care, you will get ideas and encouragement from the Chaplain or therapist. You will find it much easier to tell your family and friends about your disease. This will in return make it easy for them to support you.

Regarding sex, your engagement in sex will go low depending on the type of cancer you have. The mood swings, body change, and self-esteem issues that come with being a cancer patient can be addressed thoroughly if you have palliative care. Some spouses will also need the same care as they stop having any form of sexual contact with their partners. They do this because they do not want to inflict pain on their loved one. For this, you will need a doctors input as well.

Your Emotional, Spiritual, Job and Financial Matters Will Be Addressed Through Palliative Care

Your chaplain will make it easier for you to solve spiritual matters. It is crucial to note that palliative care will help you value life and enjoy every moment that you get. You will approach your end of life with a more fulfilled attitude and less bitter. Through stress management and relaxation routines, you will cope well with the emotional stress that is associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment. Most cancer patients get depressed when they think of the financial strain the treatment is subjecting their family. Talking in support groups and sometimes chat rooms will give you an opportunity to learn how fellow patients have handled money matters efficiently. With Palliative care, you will know how to address your colleagues at work and how to balance treatment and still be productive at your job.

The palliative care is in the form of medication and support system that aims at decreasing the amount of pain you experience. Such support system will ensure that you adjust well to the changes and you are psychologically ready for the procedures that you will have to undergo.

Risks and Side Effects of Immunotherapy

Like any other cancer treatment method, immunotherapy has its imperfections. Immunotherapy aims at improving the body’s defense mechanism so that your body can fight the cancerous cells on its own. The body will ensure that the white blood cells and lymph system work well in curtailing the spread of cancer. Your doctor will advise you to go for immunotherapy if you have the following types of cancer, breast, colon, prostate, liver, ovarian and bran among other types of cancers. Some of the risks and side effects associated with Immunotherapy include;

Not Everybody Responds to It, and It Takes Time to Bear Results

So far, immunotherapy has only worked on 50 percent of the patients who have tried it as a treatment option. It is not clear why the treatment is not working on some patients. Studies are still ongoing to get better approach of administering immunotherapy. There are also many drugs that are yet to be approved and be used in immunotherapy. When you choose immunotherapy as your treatment option, be patient, the results won’t come overnight. The cancer cells won’t die as fast as they do with other treatment options. The body will take some time before it can have the required defense mechanism to attack all the cancerous cells in your body. It is important to note that with time, the body may adopt and get used to the drugs administered. In this case, cancer will still be spreading even if you are still under medication.

Cause Mouth Sores and Destroys Other Major Organs

The mouth sores are as a result of damage to the cells in your mouth and throats. The cell damage is a side effect of the drugs administered by your doctor as part of the immunotherapy procedure. Both the mouth and the throat will thus be prone to infections. The sores preset themselves between five to fourteen days after the treatment commences. The condition of having painful mouth sores is referred to as mucositis. By observing proper dental hygiene, you will lower the breakout o the sores greatly. Another detrimental side effect of immunotherapy is the malfunctioning of major organs such as the heart, liver, and kidney. The medication used interferes with normal functioning of the organs posing a significant risk to your health. Some patients report having heart palpitations from time to time. Others complain of having a stuffy head. The treatment also increases the risk of having blood clots.

Brings about Skin Reactions and Flu-like Symptoms

You are likely to get a sore, turn red or a swell at the point where the treatment is administered into your body. Due to this irritation on the skin, some people become more sensitive to sunlight. Others will have cracks around the fingernails. The delicate skin makes the patients scratch a lot thus exposing them to more infections. The dryness of the skin combined with inflammation of the nails makes it hard to carry out any task smoothly. Every small role becomes painful and dreadful. Some of the drugs used in immunotherapy will make you have flu-like symptoms. You will feel fatigued most of the time, nauseated, experience chills, at times vomit and you will be weak and dizzy. If you are experiencing these symptoms, seek guidance from your doctor and stay hydrated at all times.

Immunotherapy can be administered alone or alongside other treatment like chemotherapy or radiation. Allow your doctor to advice on the best treatment option for you.

Breast Cancer: Answers to Your Questions from Other Woman

Experience is the best teacher. No one can teach you better than a person who has had the same experience as you. You can also learn as you go through your experience. It never hurts to be prepared, having some answers and insight to some questions will make your journey less cumbersome. Here is a list of the commonly asked questions and what other women had to say.

How Do You Tell Your Children and Colleagues at Work?

This question has been asked very frequently by many mothers. You will want to remain strong and take care of your children. Either way, remember keeping them in darkness will hurt them even more. How you break the news to them will depend on how old they are. But either way, allow them to help you in their small ways. Let them help around the house with chores. It will be very fulfilling to them knowing that they are there for their mother. About your colleagues at work, you can use a close friend to pass on the things you want to tell them. Trust me you do not want to keep repeating the same story over and over. People will want to know how you are doing, how you respond is entirely up to you. Educate them when they seem insensitive and send them off if you are tired.

Will You Have Surgery or Chemotherapy as Your Treatment Options?

Whether or not you will go through chemotherapy depends on the stage of your cancer, how aggressive it is and the status of your HER2 receptors and ER/PR receptors. HER2 receptors stand for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. IF your HER2 is negative, then Chemotherapy is advisable. ER/PR receptors, they are estrogen and progesterone receptors which help in detecting the cancerous cells in your breast. If the cancer is ER/PR negative, then it is classified as a high-risk breast cancer, and chemotherapy will be advised. When cancer has spread to your lymph nodes which are located around your armpits, then a more aggressive treatment such as chemo is carried out. As for surgery, your doctor will decide based on the size of your tumor, the stage, its location and the size of your breast. You also have a choice as the patient; you may opt out of surgery and go for treatments such as radiation.

How to Deal with Anxiety the Answer to Reconstructive Surgery Worries

Many women get very anxious, especially when waiting for the results. You want the results to be good news, but you have no control over them. The only way you can get some hope is by talking to fellow women on internet chat rooms who have been through what you are going through. From the many confessions, you will get you will be less anxious. Talk to friend s and family. O to a library do some research and be informed, so you have a glimpse of what to expect. If none of the above strategies work, take some anti-anxiety medications as prescribed by your doctor. As for reconstructive surgery, it is entirely your choice. The timing of the operation varies depending on the stage of your cancer. For stage one cancer which is small and less spreading, you can have the surgery immediately after your mastectomy. But for advanced cancer, you are advised to wait.

For Breast cancer patients, it is beneficial to learn from your fellow women who have gone through the same ordeal.

Do the Following Foods and Substances or Actions Cause Cancer?

There is a lot of research that is aimed at determining whether the things you use daily can be increasing the risk of cancer. The foods sold in stores today or even from farms have been linked to different types of cancer. For you to protect yourself, be on your toes, be updated and keep off the substances that are carcinogenic. Some of the foods and items that have been linked to cancer include;

X-rays and Other Forms of Radiation from Electronic Devices

Over the years, extensive research has been done to find out the link between cancer and radiation. Exposure to the high energy radiation coming from X-Rays is harmful and carcinogenic. It is not clear how much exposure will lead to cancer but the more you are exposed, the higher the risk of coming down with cancer. To avoid this, lower the exposure when you can. Your dentist ensures that you are covered with a lead material every time you have a dental X-ray during your checkup or treatments for a reason. Cell phones and other electronic devices such as microwave emit the same radiations that with time will cause cancer. Keep all electronic devices an arm away from your body. Power lines have radiations too although they are Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) type. To be safe, monitor the level of radiations around your home if you leave near power lines by using a gaussmeter to measure ELF fields.

Sex and Dome Household Items

Studies have linked sex to spread of the cancer-causing virus; Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The virus causer Cervical cancer in women and is transmitted by men. To protect yourself from this type of cancer, ensure that you stick to one sexual partner, use condoms regularly and get yourself vaccinated. Men should do the same to protect their partners. Every adult who has unprotected sex is exposed to the virus at one point in their life, but not every person gets the disease. Some household items such as paint, pesticides, cosmetics and automotive give off some gas that has been proven to be carcinogenic. The gases are commonly known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The compounds cause cancer in animals and human beings. When out shopping for such household items, look at the label, go for those that are labeled low-VOCs.

Meat, Coffee, and Alcohol

 

It is important to note that not all types of meat pose a risk of cancer. Processed, red and grilled meats are some of the meat that will expose you to cancer causative agents. Grilled meat is exposed to an extremely high temperature that produces compounds such as heterocyclic aromatic amines and the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are carcinogenic. Processed meat, on the other hand, has preservatives such as nitrites that are carcinogenic too. If you want proteins, stick with fish and plant protein, they are much safer. As for coffee, no research has tied it to cancer risk. In fact, a study has shown that drinking about four cups of coffee daily lowers the risk of getting liver, throat and prostate cancers among other types. With alcohol, it is widely known that it passes a great danger and risk of getting liver, esophageal and colon cancers among others. This happens when alcohol is consumed in excess.

Doing some personal research will help you differentiate the myths from the facts and protect your health and that o your family.

Treatment of Cancer by Immunotherapy

Cancer treatment has been enhanced globally due to increased chances of people getting cancer as technology improves. Procedures like surgery, radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy have been put in place in a more advanced way than it was before. Nevertheless, immunotherapy is another type of cancer treatment that has been used for few decades, and it has helped in treating patients with lung, lymphoma, melanoma cancers and many other types of cancer that have shown up.

Immunotherapy is used depending on the type of cancer; the extent of disease whereby it works well if the cancer has not reached its advanced stage. Besides, it is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy or even after surgery. Immunotherapy mainly uses the patients’ immune system to fight cancer. In this case, immunotherapies work by boosting the immune systems hence the body can fight cancer cells thereby preventing them from growing and spreading to other body parts. These therapies also work by teaching the immune system how to attack specific cells found in tumors.

There are different types of immunotherapies as discussed below;

Antibody Therapy

These antibodies work by finding cancer cells in the body after which the cancer cells are destroyed and killed by the immune system. Antibodies are proteins found in the immune system that work by recognizing foreign antigens in the body and after that stimulating an immune response. Monoclonal antibodies are manmade and are the commonly used type of antibodies in the treatment of cancer. Naked and conjugated monoclonal antibodies are widely used in the treatment of cancer. Naked monoclonal antibodies purely enhance the immune system to attack cancer cells and have nothing attached to them. Conjugated monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, have both radioactive particles and chemotherapy. These particles attach to the cancer cells hence releasing medicine to the cells thereby killing them. Conjugated monoclonal antibodies reduce the side effects and promote best results of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to patients. Most of these monoclonal antibodies are injected into the patient’s veins, and they are sometimes paired with other treatments like chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Checkpoint Inhibitors

The immune system has to recognize cells to identify which cells are supposed to be attacked. Healthy cells have substances called checkpoints that identify them hence no destruction can be done to them. However, cancer turns these brakes off enabling the immune system to identify the normal cells thus hiding the tumors. Checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that help the immune system to recognize these tumor cells so that they cannot hide. These cells are identified and killed therefore hindering growth and spread of cancerous cells to other body parts. Ipilimumab, nivolumab, atezolizumab are among the examples of checkpoint inhibitors drugs that are being used in cancer patients. They treat neck, head, and lung and bladder cancers among many other cancers that have not advanced to the last stage. Checkpoints PD-1 and PDL-1 are found on the T.cells of the immune systems and are inhibited by PD-1 and PDL-1 inhibitors. In this case, these inhibitors treat melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and kidney cancers.
Cancer vaccines, cytokine therapy, and dendritic cell therapy are also types of immunotherapy that patients receive from cancer centers to improve their health as well as boost their immunity. Immunotherapy has put some patients away from chemotherapy which has adverse side effects that deteriorate the body defense mechanism of patients. In other words, immunotherapy has improved the health of patients with cancer as they do not have to rely on chemotherapy or radiotherapy to hinder growth and spread of cancer.