Immunotherapy may be given daily, weekly or monthly. The frequency and duration of immunotherapy for cancer treatment can vary based on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer being treated, the type and form of the immunotherapy prescribed and how the patient’s body responds to treatment, including any side effects. For instance, because immunotherapy can strengthen the immune system’s response, inflammation may develop in various parts of the body.
Like chemotherapy, some types of immunotherapy are administered in cycles, with each treatment session followed by a rest period. This gives the patient’s body time to recover from treatment, respond to the immunotherapy and produce new, healthy cells. Because immunotherapy medications act directly on the body’s immune system, they sometimes continue working long after treatment stops.
How is immunotherapy administered?
Different forms of immunotherapy are given in different ways, such as:
- Intravenously – The immunotherapy medication is a liquid that is injected directly into a vein.
- Orally – The immunotherapy medication is a pill or capsule that is swallowed.
- Topically – The immunotherapy medication is a cream that is applied to the skin.
- Intravesically – The immunotherapy medication is a liquid that is delivered directly into a specific body cavity such as the bladder via a catheter.
Immunotherapy medications may be combined and administered simultaneously. While some patients receive immunotherapy as a standalone treatment, others receive it in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Jose Conejo-Garcia, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Immunology
If you have questions about immunotherapy for cancer treatment, contact Moffitt Cancer Center. You can request an appointment with a specialist in our renowned Immunotherapy Program by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online.