Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can immunotherapies attack a diagnosis like chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that is present in the immune system?
A. Hematologic cancers (cancers found in blood cells) such as CLL, lymphomas, leukemias, and myeloma affect immune cells. There are ongoing studies of immunotherapies for the treatment of patients with these diagnoses. Allogeneic stem cell transplant is also a type of immunotherapy since one of its goals is to allow the transplanted immune system to attack any residual cancer. There are also data of immunotherapy in Hodgkin disease that appear promising. Ask your physician if immunotherapy might have a role in your specific situation.
Q. Are there any immunotherapies to prevent recurrence in estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer survivors?
A. While there are no approved immunotherapies for breast cancer, there are ongoing clinical trials of agents targeting the immune system in patients with this diagnosis. Talk with your health care team to see if there are any trials that might be suitable for you.
Q. I’m worried about how the side effects from my treatment will interfere with my summer vacation. Any suggestions?
A. Emotionally and physically, people often need a break. Sometimes the treatment can be timed in such a way that you can get your enjoyment in and at the same time maintain your regimen. Speak with your oncologist to discuss your situation.
Q. How should I plan for continuing with oral medications when I go away on vacation or a long-weekend?
A. Some drugs should not be left at room temperature because this could cause the medication to become less effective, or the capsules might melt. The most important thing to do before you go anywhere is to speak with your doctor or your pharmacist to find out if there is any specific kind of preparation needed to maintain the effectiveness of your drug.
Q. My dad is elderly and is scheduled to start lung cancer treatment. Because of his age, we are concerned about his ability to tolerate side effects. What do you suggest?
A. What is important, rather than age, is the patient’s level of activity or performance status. Share your concerns with the physician and make clear your father’s level of activity. For example, is your father staying in bed more than 75 percent of the day or is he going through his normal activities during the day? Keep in mind that it’s possible that any weakness, fatigue, or poor appetite due to the cancer could improve with treatment.