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When Cancer Treatment Makes You Sicker

June 12th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

JACKSON, Mississippi. Immune system cancer therapies have shown great promise for many cancer patients, but according to the New York Times, for some patients, these same treatments have actually made people much sicker. These results reveal that immunotherapy is still very much in its early days. Many doctors recommend that the treatment only be used when other options have failed or when all other options have run out. The risks of immunotherapy could be high. Immunotherapy works because it helps the body’s immune system work to fight off the cancer. There are several types of immunotherapies available. While this study is alarming, many types of immunotherapy are quite safe and have even saved some patient’s lives.

Where has immunotherapy failed? Immunotherapy treatments were used to treat cancer patients who had developed lymphoma that is caused by a virus. The virus is known as HTLV-1. This virus is considered by some to be the “cousin of the virus that causes HIV” according to CNN. While it only causes lymphoma in 5% of patients, the virus has been detected in poor aboriginal communities in high numbers.

Patients who had lymphoma based on this virus were given immunotherapy drugs. Yet, one patient in the study got sicker rather than better. There are two types of lymphoma associated with the virus, one type is slower to progress and can be managed, while the other type progresses rapidly. When one woman with the slower-progressing cancer was treated with immunotherapy, her cancer mutated into the faster-progressing form of the disease.

Doctors believe that the drug could have triggered the worsening of her condition.

The studies are also troubling in that doctors who administered patients the immunotherapy were not always able to report on how patients did when they returned home from the study. At least three patients left the study with seriously worsening leukemia.

Immunotherapy works because it marks cancer cells to make them more readily identifiable to the immune system. Then, the body’s natural immune system can work to take care of the cancer. While there are many known side effects of immunotherapy, this recent study is the first time that patients have been known to get sicker from the very condition that the drug was designed to treat.

If you or a loved one is fighting cancer, there are many ways that medical care can go wrong. Misdiagnosis, pharmacy errors, medical errors, surgical errors, or prescription errors can make vulnerable patients even sicker. If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer and you believe a doctor’s medical malpractice led to a worsening of your condition, reach out to the medical malpractice lawyers at the The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm in Jackson, Mississippi today. Our Firm can review your case, help you understand your rights, and we may be able to help you seek damages for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Visit us at to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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