Paul SissonContact Reporter
Patients’ own immune systems are increasingly being used to fight cancers that used to have grim prognoses, often with varying levels of success. This fast-growing field of research and treatment is called immunotherapy.
If you, your loved ones or your friends have undergone — or are undergoing — immunotherapy, we’d like to hear from you. (See more details below on how to share your story.)
In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved immunotherapy drugs such as Keytruda, Yervoy, Opdivo and Tecentriq to treat a range of difficult cancers, including melanoma, lymphoma and those attacking the lungs, kidneys and bladder.
San Diego County is a hotbed of clinical trials for immunotherapy, making it possible for local patients to enroll in studies using experimental treatments not yet on the market. It’s also a hub for this expanding category of oncology research, anchored by UC San Diego and respected life-science institutes.
But immunotherapy medications are not always magical cures. Studies increasingly show that for some patients, the side effects can be severe, including organ failure in extreme cases. Researchers also are exploring how these drugs can cause growth of other types of tumors or early onset diabetes in certain patients. And physicians have found that immunotherapy may prolong a person’s life for a few months instead of years or decades.
Still, the treatments have brought about amazing transformations for many people who were facing an imminent death sentence. For those patients and their families, the potential side effects may be seen as acceptable risks.
Whether your experience with immunotherapy has been positive, mixed or difficult, we think your story can help inform or even inspire others in San Diego County and across the nation.
Contact medical reporter Paul Sisson at (619) 293-1850 or email him at [email protected]. Please give your name, phone number and email address so he can reach you.