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Immunotherapy overview

Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that uses the body’s immune system to better identify and attack cancer cells in the body.
Several different types of immunotherapy are currently used in the treatment of cancer to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells or prevent cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body. Immunotherapy is also referred to as a targeted treatment.

How it works

Cancer cells are not targeted by our natural defences as they can hide from the immune system, either by escaping defensive cells or by producing signals to cause the immune system to ignore the cells. Aggressive cancer cells can also overwhelm the immune system, preventing it from stopping the growth of cancer cells, even if they can be identified.

Immunotherapy works by encouraging the immune system to attack the cancer cells. This can be done by making cancer cells recognisable to the immune system or by blocking the pathways that cancer cells use to hide from our natural antibodies. Our immune system is our natural defence and has evolved to defend the body against illness, disease and infection without causing further damage to healthy cells. By using immunotherapy as a cancer treatment, we can provide the immune system with the necessary defences to work more efficiently against cancer.

How is immunotherapy given?

Immunotherapy is currently delivered using four different methods, depending on the intention of the treatment.

  • Intravenously- Treatment is delivered directly into a vein
  • Orally- The patient is given a course of tablets or pills to swallow
  • Topically- Immunotherapy is delivered by a cream that can be rubbed into the skin
  • Intravesical- A catheter delivers treatment directly into the bladder

All our Rutherford Cancer Centres offer immunotherapy within our Infusion Therapy Suites (for chemotherapy and immunotherapy patients). Our suites are designed around the comfort of our patients. They include a waiting area for patients and visitors, and individual treatment rooms along with refreshment facilities.

How long immunotherapy takes

Depending on the type of cancer and the intention of the immunotherapy, patients should expect to spend several hours to a full day receiving a single treatment of immunotherapy when delivered intravenously. The length of the full immunotherapy treatment will vary depending on the individual patient’s situation and could potentially take place over a year or longer, depending on the spread of cancer cells in the body.

Absolutely lovely, friendly warm welcome from everybody we saw, couldn't ask for anymore.

Patient Feedback - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

July 2019

Friendly staff, nice location/setting.

Patient Feedback - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

July 2019

My visit was most enjoyable, thank you for putting me at ease.

Patient Feedback - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

June 2019

As soon as we entered the property the receptionist was friendly, the area was immaculate. The facilities the same. I hope more people get to use this clinic and the care of all the staff.

Patient Feedback - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

June 2019

What a really lovely place. 1st visit as an NHS patient. Very relaxing, great coffee! Smashing staff. Thank you for making my home town your home!

Patient Feedback - Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales

June 2019

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