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How Cancer Affects Your Immune System and What to Do About It

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How Cancer Affects Your Immune System and What to Do About It

We know the immune system plays a key role in fighting off pathogens from entering the body. But it also fights the battles occurring within. It’s perhaps your biggest ally in helping your body fight disease. And understanding how your immune system joins forces with cancer treatment can give you a positive advantage.

Understanding the Role of Cancer Immunotherapy in Mexico

Your immune system targets disease and infection. It detects and destroys anything it sees as a threat. Some of these pathogens may include:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites


  • Unhealthy cells, including cancer cells!

The question perhaps you and everyone asks is what is this role in cancer treatment for immunotherapy?  Let’s look a little deeper into the role of the immune system first.

Having a strong immune system should reduce your body’s vulnerability to illness and disease.

So why do you still get sick?

Or receive a cancer diagnosis?

Your body’s immune system “highway.”

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and tissues. It collects and transports excess fluids (including some fats) from other tissues throughout your body. It then provides them access to your bloodstream.

There’s a close connection between your lymphatic system and your immune system.

Many of the disease-fighting cells of the immune system: Begin in the bone marrow. Mature in the thymus. Are stored in strategic locations. Use the lymphatic “highway” system to travel through the body, and along with the lymph nodes and spleen, filter out harmful materials and germs. An immune response occurs when the immune system is activated and responds. This can happen when a foreign invader is detected.1

How cancer takes advantage of your immune system

Theories abound. One is that your immune system attacks cells it views as foreign. And cancer cells start as usual (looking) cells.

Any changes the cancer cell makes within can still appear normal to your immune system. The mutation can occur, the cells can grow and multiply, and no attack is launched to destroy them.

Cancer cells can turn off your body’s natural immune response and suppress local immune cells’ activity (which protects a specific organ or another part of the body). Within the tumor, the cancer cells can create an environment that interferes with the effectiveness of the immune response. 2

There are multiple layers to the somewhat covert attack of cancer cells on your body’s immune system. This makes it all the more necessary that you give yourself an advantage when receiving a cancer diagnosis.

How Chemotherapy Affects the Immune System

Chemotherapy medications work by destroying cancer cells in the body. Unfortunately, they can also harm healthy cells as well including those of the immune system.

The medications can also reduce the number of white blood cells in the body, leaving you susceptible to infections. It is important to monitor levels while on chemotherapy treatment. Sometimes doctors may need to give a break in between chemotherapy treatments if labs are abnormal.

How Radiation Therapy Affects the Immune System

Radiation generally does not affect the immune system as much as other cancer treatment options such as chemotherapy. The primary concern is radiation can irritate the skin, causing an entrance for bacteria and germs.

Radiation may impact the immune system more if directed at the bones. This is because of the bone marrow factor. In this case, the effects are similar to that of chemotherapy, and doctors carefully monitor labs for impact on white blood cell count.

How Immunotherapy Affects the Immune System

Immunotherapy treatments stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells. As a result, they can sometimes attack healthy cells as well.

Some people have flu-like symptoms as a result. These can include:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Headache

Some people experience respiratory concerns or shortness of breath. Always report any new or worsening symptoms to a physician or if you are experiencing a recent illness.

A counter-attack on cancer

The ability of cancer to hide from your body’s natural, disease-fighting immune system calls for new strategies. Immunotherapy helps your immune system by strengthening or restoring its ability to fight cancer. Radiofrequency ablation for cancer is another exciting treatment option alternative to chemotherapy that is now being used to battle difficult to treat metastases.

Intratumoral Immunotherapy

  • Stops cancer from spreading (metastasizing)
  • Increases your immune system’s cancer-killing efficiency
  • Reduces the speed or progress of cancer’s growth
  • Delivers therapies directly into cancer cells

Radiofrequency Ablation for Cancer

  • An option when surgical methods may not be possible
  • High-frequency electrical current is used to destroy cancer cells
  • Minimally invasive

Learn more about Williams Cancer Institute 

Questions about intratumoral immunotherapy and its unique relationship with your body’s immune system are essential to your cancer fight? Or would you like to learn more about radiofrequency ablation for cancer?

We’re experienced and prepared to provide you the answers you need about this remarkable and effective cancer treatment.

Contact us to discover how to give your immune system an advantage following a cancer diagnosis. Schedule a consultation to discuss immunotherapy.


  1. COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER, Friday, September 21, 2018, If Your Immune System Protects You, Why Do You Still Get Sick?,
  2. COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTER, Monday, October 22, 2018, Activating Your Immune System Against Cancer, https://www.roswellpark.org/cancertalk/201810/activating-your-immune-system-against-cancer

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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