Immunotherapy is typically given through a vein, like chemotherapy, but other methods may be used.
Response to an immunotherapy is often different from that of chemotherapy or targeted therapies. With immunotherapy, the cancer may seem to grow initially even if the treatment is working. Scans can show what seem to be larger tumors, but really the tumor has a lot of immune cells in it which are working to fight the cancer. These spots can decrease on later scans.
Some immunotherapies have been approved to treat lung cancer but many are only available through clinical trials.
Side effects from immunotherapy are generally caused by the increased activity of the immune system. These may include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, rashes, diarrhea and inflammation within the lungs, liver, kidneys or hormone-producing glands such as thyroid or the pituitary.
Often the side effects from immunotherapy can be milder than those from chemotherapy; however, there can be severe immune-related side effects. Close monitoring is necessary for early detection and successful management of these side effects. Be sure to tell your treatment team about any side effects you experience.