About: Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a treatment designed to fight prostate cancer (matepukupuku repeure) — by boosting your body’s own natural defences.

Is immunotherapy available in New Zealand?

Immunotherapy to treat prostate cancer is currently only available through clinical trials in New Zealand.
In case you’ve heard about it and would like to know more, we have some information below. If you have further questions, you can always ask your doctor or hauora provider.

How does immunotherapy
work exactly?

Your immune system is what helps you fight off infections. This natural protection is found in the immune cells, within your bloodstream. Immunotherapy works by helping your immune system to recognise and attack prostate cancer cells.

It's important to note that immunotherapy has not been shown to stop prostate cancer from growing but it can prolong life by several months.

It does not lead to:

  • lower PSA levels

  • the tumour shrinking

  • slower growth of the cancer

  • improved symptoms

What about side effects?

Different types of immunotherapy will cause different side effects, but some people are exhausted afterwards, or feel like they need to throw up. It’s important to talk to your doctor to understand what you can expect.

Being a good candidate

Immunotherapy is best for tāne with certain types of advanced prostate cancer, especially if the cancer is not responding to hormone therapy. It’s also best for tāne who aren’t experiencing any problems or symptoms of prostate cancer. Immunotherapy may also be given alongside other treatments if your doctor thinks it’s a good option.

Questions to ask your doctor or care team

  • What are the side effects with immunotherapy?

  • What are my other treatment options?

  • How will immunotherapy impact my quality of life?

  • How will immunotherapy impact my cancer?

When you talk with your doctor, care team or hauora provider, have a list of all your questions. This will help make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decisions for you.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on About: Immunotherapy, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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