What is Biological Therapy?
Biological treatment means the method of treatment of a particular disease by either activating or suppressing the immune system of a human body. The biological treatment by which the response of the immune system is increased is called activation immunotherapy. There is another alternative method where the immunity is suppressed for the purpose of treatment. That type of biological treatment is called suppression immunotherapy.
In simple terms, biological therapy is a method of treating cancer by boosting the immunity system of the body to fight against cancer.
Since biological treatment entails controlling the immune system, it is also called immunotherapy. The other name of biological therapy is biotherapy. Biological therapy is also called biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.
How Does Biological Therapy Work?
Our immune system is the defender against the attacks of viruses and bacteria. In biological therapy, the immune system of your body is used to identify and destroy cancer cells. Biological therapy works in the manner as stated:
- Restricting or mitigating the growth of cancer cells.
- Helping the immune system find the cancer cells more easily so that they may be destroyed.
- Increasing the ability to kill cancer cells.
- Stopping the spread of the cancer cells to the various parts of the body from the point of origin.
How is Biological Therapy Performed?
Depending on the type of cancer immunotherapy or biological therapy is expected to fight, there are various ways of performing the therapy. Some of the common ways of performing biological therapy are:
- Intravenous – directly through veins through injections.
- Subcutaneous – under the skin through injections.
- Intramuscularly – into the muscle through injections.
- Intravesical – directly into the bladder through injections.
Apart from the above, certain types of biological therapies are administered in the cavity positioned at the location of the tumor.
In the case of skin cancer, biological therapy may be done in the form of the application of a cream. The cream is applied to the affected area. Immunotherapy can also be oral. There are capsules that may be taken for the purpose of biological therapy.
Preparation for Biological Therapy
The first level of preparation for biological therapy is on the part of the medical expert who is going to carry out the therapy. The person needs to ascertain that biological therapy is absolutely essential for the treatment of the patient. If the patient suffers from pre-existing conditions like a weak immune system, bad heart conditions, neurological ailments, the doctors may not carry out biological therapy.
Once the doctor decides to carry out biological therapy on a person, the patient needs to be carefully counseled before the therapy is carried out. It should be explained to the patient that conditions demand this therapy; its possible side effects should also be explained transparently. The importance of counseling increases if the patient is young, as the shock factor on the person cannot be ruled out.
At the time of counseling and preparing the patient for biological therapy, minute but critical things like staying clear of infections, etc., should be made clear.
Risks and Side Effects of Biological Therapy
The common side effects of biological therapy are:
- Body aches
- Skin rashes
- Loss of appetite
Recovery Time for Biological Therapy
The timeline for recovery post-biological therapy varies from case to case. It is a long-drawn process of treatment, where the patients have to go back to the clinic every month, every three months, or every six months, depending on the gravity of the situation.