What to Expect After Immunotherapy for Melanoma
Side effects from immunotherapy can be severe, but usually improve after the treatment is finished.
Potential side effects of anti-CTLA-4 therapy
The anti-CTLA-4 drug Yervoy (ipilimumab) can cause side effects such as:
Severe inflammation (swelling) in the intestines, liver, skin, nerves, eyes, or other organs
Allergic reactions during drug infusion
Potential side effects of cytokine therapy
Cytokines include interferon alpha and interleukin-2 (IL-2). Here are some of the more common side effects of cytokine therapy:
Low blood cell counts
Fatigue (severe tiredness)
Some side effects are specific to different cytokines. For example, high doses of IL-2 can cause low blood pressure and large amounts of fluid to build up in the body. High doses of interferon alpha can cause more severe forms of many of the side effects above, as well as effects on the heart and liver. Patients getting these treatments often need to be monitored closely.
Potential side effects of vaccines
Vaccines have not yet been approved to treat melanoma, but the side effects seen in clinical trials so far have tended to be mild. Side effects may depend on the specific vaccine, but in general they may include:
Redness at the injection site