Biological therapies treat cancer using live organisms (such as bacteria and viruses), natural substances from your body, or similar substances made in a laboratory. These therapies (also called immunotherapy) partner with your immune system to boost the body’s natural ability to fight cancer.
One of the many benefits of biological therapy is that it specifically recognizes or targets cancer cells. Cancer cells look and act differently than normal cells in your body. Biological therapies work with your immune system to selectively destroy cancer cells and spare healthy cells. Conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation kill healthy cells.
Why We Use Biological Therapy
Biological therapy has the ability to slow or stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. This type of treatment may be prescribed along with another cancer treatment. The goal of this type of therapy will be to maximize your treatment or reduce side effects from certain cancer treatments.
There are many kinds of biological therapies — some help your immune system’s ability to recognize and destroy cancer cells, while others directly target cancer cells.
Your oncologist at Dignity Health will evaluate the type and stage of your cancer to determine if you are a good candidate for biological therapy. In some cases, your response to first-line cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, will help your doctor decide if biological therapy is right for you.
What to Expect
Our cancer care team (including specially trained surgeons, doctors, and nurse navigators) at Dignity Health will give you biological therapy by mouth (as a pill) or by injection into a vein, under the skin, into a muscle, or into the bladder.
Biological therapy is not recommended to treat all types and stages of cancer. However, many biological therapies are in the testing phase of a clinical trial. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for any available clinical trials.
Care & Recovery After Biological Therapy in the Sacramento Region
Your recovery from biological therapy will depend on the type of therapy, the dose, your overall health, and the severity of your side effects. You will have follow-up tests and imaging studies to help your cancer care team to determine how well the therapy is working and what is the best plan for your future health.
Dignity Health Cancer Institute of Greater Sacramento offers many advanced cancer treatments, including biological therapy, in Sacramento and the surrounding areas.