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What Is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. The immune system naturally defends the body against cancer cells. However, some cancer cells grow and spread by hiding from the immune system.

There are several types of immunotherapies. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that mark or locate cancer cells to be recognized by the immune system. Cancer vaccines strengthen or activate the immune system against specific cancer targets. Certain immunotherapies can mark cancer cells and help the immune system find and destroy them. Other therapies generally boost the immune systems to better fight the cancer.

What to Expect

Immunotherapy drugs come in three forms:

  • Intravenous (IV), given through a vein
  • Injection
  • Pill

The doctor must find out the amount and type of drug that works best for each patient. It can take one or more treatments to find the right balance. If too little of the drug is given, the tumor might not shrink. If too much is given, the drugs may be too hard on the patient’s body. A personal plan will find the correct amount and type of drug that works best for each patient.

Possible Side Effects

Immunotherapy affects people in different ways. Side effects of immunotherapy may include:

  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms

Immunotherapy may cause allergic reactions. However, these reactions are rare.

General Information About Cancer Treatment

Where the cancer started can affect how it is treated. Different drugs can be used based on whether the cancer started in the breast, the lung or somewhere else in the body.

Cancer can cause many symptoms based on where it spreads. For example, you can get a headache if cancer spreads from the breast to the brain. It is important to find out where the cancer started. This will allow the patient to see the right doctor for a consultation.

Samuel Oschin Cancer Center Infusion Center

The Samuel Oschin Cancer Center's outpatient infusion center offers chemotherapy and supportive services. Flooded with sunshine and filled with trees and plants — even aquariums — the infusion center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • We find a time that works for you.
  • Care for patients' urgent or unexpected needs.
  • Oncology nurses are always reachable by phone.
  • Eighteen private rooms for treatment sessions six hours or longer.
  • Sixteen cozy recliner chairs for shorter sessions.

A Calm Setting

The infusion center was designed more like a hotel than a hospital. Each private treatment room has a bed, private phone, bathroom, TV, VCR and visitor seating. Rooms have curtains and doors to give many levels of privacy.

For those who need shorter sessions, each of our cozy recliner chairs is outfitted with a DVD laptop. We offer many choices of DVDs and CDs for your entertainment.

Affiliated Locations
  • The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute
  • Tower Hematology Oncology Medical Group


Scientists at Cedars-Sinai are conducting research on the use of immunotherapy drugs and cancer vaccines in fighting cancer. Search our clinical trials to learn more about this research and other cancer-fighting drugs.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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