Lung cancer has long been considered one of the most challenging cancers to treat because it has usually spread by the time you’re diagnosed. When it spreads to other body parts, doctors refer to it as metastatic. The newest field of cancer medicine, called Immunotherapy, is an effective treatment option for metastatic lung cancer.
This type of treatment helps your immune system better find and destroy cancer cells. The types that are approved for lung cancer right now are called checkpoint inhibitors. They bring cancer cells out of hiding so your body’s natural defense system can find and kill them. There are four FDA-approved immunotherapy drugs for NSCLC: atezolizumab (Tecentriq), durvalumab (Imfinzi), nivolumab (Opdivo), and pembrolizumab (Keytruda).
These drugs should be used with caution if you have an autoimmune disorder like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis!
Many other types of lung cancer immunotherapy medicines and treatments are in clinical trials. Your doctor may suggest you take part in one of these studies if other treatments haven’t worked.
Where and When?
You’ll to go to your doctor’s office, a medical center, or a hospital. You’ll get the drug by infusion through an IV (intravenous) line, usually in your arm.
Each treatment takes about 30 to 90 minutes. Depending on the drug used, you’ll receive a dose every 2 to 3 weeks until the cancer shows signs of improvement or you have certain side effects. The process will probably lasta few months.
Side Effects & Complications
Immunotherapy can cause flu-like side effects. This means your immune system is hard at work.
Common symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
Muscle aches and pains
Other side effects of checkpoint inhibitors for lung cancer include
Many of these problems are easy to treat with over-the-counter medicines.