Understanding Immunotherapy

Common side effects of immunotherapy and their management

However, different types of immunotherapy can affect the body differently. Patients should consult doctors to understand the relevant side effects of their prescribed treatment. Not everyone will experience the same side effects, and some patients may have no side effects.17

Because immunotherapies work by enhancing the immune system, they can sometimes cause immune system to become overactive and attack healthy cells, thus causing side effects.16 Common side effects to immunotherapy may include:16

Skin reactions
Flu like symptoms
Muscle aches
Shortness of breath
Swelling of legs
Problems with
hormone producing
glands such as thyroid

Managing side effects

Many side effects depend on the type of treatment, the type and location of the cancer, and a person’s overall health.17 Before your immunotherapy treatment begins, talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of your specific treatment. During treatment, be sure to tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you experience any side effects. They can help manage or relieve many side effects. Let them know about any new, continuing, or worsening medical problems you have as soon as possible, even if you do not think it is serious or are unsure if it is related to the immunotherapy.17