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Treatment Options: Immunotherapy

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer among women. Women in the United States have a 1 in 8 (or about 13 percent) lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. Thus, the need for effective breast cancer treatment is critical.

Current treatment methods for breast cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapies. If you or someone you know has undergone treatment for cancer, you know that these treatments can take a toll on your body. Breast cancer has been regarded as difficult to treat with immunotherapy until recently. Ongoing preclinical and clinical studies suggest that immunotherapy treatment has the potential to improve outcomes for patients.

What is immunotherapy?

You may be wondering what all immunotherapy entails. According to the National Cancer Institute, immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body's natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Several types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer including immune checkpoint inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, and treatment vaccines, among others.

Are there side effects?

Different people have different side effects. Side effects largely depend on how healthy you are before treatment, your type of cancer, how advanced it is, the type of immunotherapy you are getting, and the dose.

How do I learn more about current trials?

As always, we recommend you work with your healthcare team to determine the best care. To find clinical research studies that involve immunotherapy visit Find NCI-Supported Clinical Trials or call the Cancer Information Service, NCI’s contact center, at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

If you're in need of support and fellowship, please reach out to Hope for the Journey. We believe no one should have to fight alone.

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