What is Biological Therapy?
Biological therapy is a kind of a therapy which is done by making use of living organisms or substances which have been derived from any living organism. Biological therapies exploit the natural ability of the immune system to kill off the cancerous cells and some of the common biological therapies used to treat cancer include therapeutic vaccines, cytokines, monoclonal antibodies and gene therapy etc.
Role of the Immune System in Biological Therapy for Cancer
Our immune system is basically a complex network consisting of tissues, organs and cells. The immune system recognizes any foreign invaders in the body and kills them, thus protecting us from diseases. Biological therapies heavily rely on the immune system’s ability to ward off antigens or cancerous cells.
It is believed that the natural ability of the immune system to destroy abnormal cells is what helps in prevention of cancer and biological therapies are aimed to either restore or improve the activities of certain immune-system constituents which help in suppressing the cancerous cells.
Side Effects of Biological Therapies for Cancer:
Biological therapies used for cancer are often associated with many types of side effects and negative after effects. The following is list of the common and rare side effects of biological therapies for cancer:
- Some of the common side effects of biological therapy for cancer include redness, soreness, itchiness, ash, pain, swelling at the site of the treatment.
- Some of the less common side effects of biological therapies for cancer include fever, chills and weakness.
- In certain other cases, a biological treatment can also be responsible for causing dizziness, vomiting and nausea as well.
- It has been found that biological therapies for cancer caused joint or muscle aches, headaches, fatigue and breathing difficulties also in the patients.
- Lowered or heightened blood pressure may also result due to a few forms of biological therapies given to cancer patients.
- In very rare cases, biological therapies that provoke an immune system response may also pose a threat of severe or even fatal hypersensitivity/allergic reactions.
The main side effects of biological therapy for cancer may depend greatly on the exact form of treatment that has been given. For example, those who are given cytokines may experience flu like symptoms and lowered blood count whereas those who are given treatment vaccines may experience severe allergic reaction and may be flu like symptoms as well.