8 Myths about Lung Cancer Immunotherapy Options

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment in which the body's immune system is stimulated or supplemented to attack and destroy cancerous cells. Keytruda, or pembrolizumab in its generic form, is an immunotherapy drug with FDA approval as an initial therapy for some types of lung cancer. Keytruda is just one form of lung cancer immunotherapy -- other options include nivolumab (sold under the brand Opdivo) and Atezolizumab (Tecentriq). If you or a loved one has either started or is about to undergo lung cancer treatment, then you might want to ask your doctor about possibilities regarding immunotherapy. Read on to debunk the top eight myths about immunotherapy drugs used for treating lung cancer patients.

Medications are the only types of immunotherapy.

Patients and their doctors can choose from several different types of immunotherapy including bone marrow transplants, antibody therapies, cytokines, vaccines and T cell therapies.

Immunotherapy is an option for all cancer patients.

Unfortunately, immunotherapy drugs aren't available for all kinds of cancers. Lung cancer is one of the conditions though with several FDA-approved immunotherapy treatment options.

Immunotherapy can't be used in conjuction with other treatments.

Immunotherapy drugs can be used with other treatments, although doing so might change each drug's dosing requirements.

Keytruda was the first immunotherapy drug to be approved for lung cancer treatment.

Before Keytruda, the FDA approved Opdivo, or nivolumab in its generic form, for the treatment of squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Like Keytruda, this medication works by blocking the PD-1 protein on cancer cells, allowing these cells to be detected by the body's immune system. However, Opdivo is not approved as a first-line treatment as Keytruda is.

Immunotherapy drugs don't yet target proteins other than the PD-L1 protein.

Tecentriq, or atezolizumab, is designed to target the PD-L1 protein of cancer cells in people who've been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. It has been approved by the FDA for use in patients who didn't gain satisfactory results through chemotherapy.

Immunotherapy is an all-new form of lung cancer treatment.

Immunotherapy drugs are newer when compared to other cancer-fighting drugs, but this treatment has been around for years. In addition, the concepts of immunotherapy have been around ford decades.

Immunotherapy can only be offered to lung cancer patients who've already had chemo.

Keytruda is approved by the FDA for use with patients who've been diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have yet to undergo chemotherapy. This allows patients more freedom when deciding upon their preferred treatment options.

Keytruda must be taken once every three days.

Keytruda is administered just once every three weeks through an IV. These IVs must be administered by licensed healthcare providers.

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